Product Research, Filing a Patent, and Going from Corporate Accountant to Full-Time eCommerce Entrepreneur with Marc Sauer

David 0:00
Are you looking to grow your sales on Amazon? Chances are if you’re not selling on Amazon’s international marketplaces, you are leaving some serious money on the table. What keeps a lot of people from selling internationally are all the confusing hoops you have to jump through to get started. That is why we worked with Kevin Sanderson from maximizing ecommerce on our international expansion. Kevin and his team take care of the details and guide you through the process of expanding so that you can grow your sales and reach new customers. If you’d like to find out if working with Kevin and his team is right for you head over to https://maximizingecommerce.com/fire. Once again that is https://maximizingecommerce.com/fire.

Intro 0:46
Welcome everyone to the Firing the Man 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.

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David 1:10
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’s brands 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 1:49
you. It’s good to be here. I’ve been asking you guys for a while and yeah, we’ve known each other for for quite a while. Absolutely. longer than three years. It feels like but but yeah,

David 1:58
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 2:05
Sure, currently live in the San Francisco Bay Area and outside of San Francisco. Like during mountain biking, I worked in the corporate world for a while as a as a CPA worked in internal audit and financial reporting, and then made my transition to full time entrepreneur last July. And it’s no regrets. I’ve absolutely loved it.

David 2:26
Awesome. Now I got to ask as a fellow recovering CPA, what drew you to that field

Marc Sauer 2:33
CPA, I’m probably going to get into 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 different places like to the leadership to an operational to a financial role. So knowing the numbers would be a great way to enter pretty much any kind of company you’d want to and then move around there. That’s what I thought. But reality isn’t really doesn’t really match that it’s not really how it works in the corporate world.

David 2:57
Very nice. Very nice. Over to you can let’s get Yes.

Ken 3:00
Yeah, for sure. So 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 3:12
Yes, sure. I was thinking about this. And I first got an E commerce when I was in high school 2002 So many eBay accounts, 20 years old, and just selling things from like, garage sales and stuff. And then, you know, back then like, there’s no, there’s no Alibaba, there’s no safe way to source things. And so one thing I did is I would contact like niche sporting good companies like rock climbing companies, motorbiking companies, hunting companies, and I just send them emails like, Hey, I love your products used to be some promotional material. And they sent me like, tons of posters, and I’ve just put those on the back. Not to add COVID first 18 year old, however old I was then don’t really know how to source items. And that was that that worked. It definitely gave me money in college to spending money.

David 3:56
Very nice. Now, did you ever think, you know, three years ago that fast forward three years, you’re gonna be on a podcast with two random dudes that you met? at a at a meet up in St. Louis, did you ever foresee this happening? No,

Marc Sauer 4:10
no, I didn’t. Three years ago, three years as a longtime ecommerce space. And there’s lots happening than with my business and macro things like COVID and just supply chain issues. And yeah, three years is a long time in E commerce. I mean, a lot of different things happen.

David 4:25
Definitely. I don’t think I envisioned it either. However, I have to say that there was a couple of those meetups for you, Ken and I over in a corner going deep 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 4:44
That’s an interesting question. Um, you know, when I live in Chicago before I live in St. Louis, I use that just to meet people when I move there and like, the E commerce meetup in St. Louis is great, but I live in the Bay Area which is full of entrepreneurs. meetup.com like no one’s posted like a bit In E commerce groups like yours, and like, these are groups like 16 people, and I’m too busy to really start pursuing that, you know, being an entrepreneur, so I’m kind of confused. I guess we work with some room that when they bought it, I really don’t know.

Ken 5:11
Yeah, absolutely. So, Mark, so you shared with our audience earlier that you’re a professional CPA, and then you transition to full time entrepreneurs, calm so can you kind of like walk the audience 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 5:32
I mentioned the example of like, my old eBay account. But then that kind of petered out, I stopped doing that after a while I went to college, I want to do graduated to, you know, a financial role or like, work for a big international companies a lot of different things. But I graduated, at the worst time had graduate 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, I got a master’s degree, I could write many books that no one ever read about that time period. But you having been lagged behind because of the greater session, I started in the corporate world with like, a lot of energy, just like to make the time up to get ahead, get what I wanted. And I learned really quickly as it’s not how the world works. Like every time I tried to get a promotion or take on a new project or treasure a new job. There’s always some, there’s always someone 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, there’s got to be an easier way. And so I thought from being a layperson working in the corporate world to becoming an entrepreneur, a business owner, what do you start from there? What’s the first step, and the first thing I did was listen to podcasts religiously, as many as I can per day in the shower and double speed. And one podcast that helped me quite a bit was actually Entrepreneur on Fire. Because every day, every podcasts The hope is a different entrepreneur in different stories. So you hear a lots of different stories, what people do. And I found that ecommerce is probably the 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 the ears, I knew Photoshop pretty well, because I was I was dabbling like wedding photographer, but you know, I got my bypass there ecommerce, when you get a product. And you know, you’re bootstrapping this, you don’t wanna spend a whole lot of money, you don’t 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 the corporate world. So I literally, I’m not joking, I called in sick for an entire week. And I didn’t tell anyone what I was doing. And it saved my apartment, and she did research on what to sell. And I just sat there just just researched it. And I found that the more time you put into it, you get a lot out of it. The product research, 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 as a failure name, you launch a lot of other products and another different brand. And it just keeps growing on itself and you make mistakes. But um, I guess you just got to start. And that was the important part. I just started in that it took them 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 depends on your financial situation, and where you live as well and a lot of other things.

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David 8:42
So let’s dive into this time period. So you’re working the 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 9:00
It was about a year and a half, actually. Because I remember like specifically, like I got thrown under the bus really rapidly by a coworker. I’m like, Screw this, like I’m done. I just was podcast every day non stop. Yeah. And just immersing yourself into it. You just have to you have to want it more than anything else. You can’t just have acid, 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 they’re not going to visit themselves present themselves to you.

David 9:34
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 spent an entire week 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 shares professional,

Marc Sauer 9:54
what I did is I had two screens I look at this one would be Alibaba, who would be on Amazon. And then I also use Google Trends and just like constantly getting new ideas, anything that came to my mind, like, Oh, I’m sitting in the kitchen, look at the theoretical garlic press. And like, think of that, but you know, 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 gonna be things find rent, in my opinion, but what if I would have to go back and do it, I would shop money for a subscription to something like helium 10. And find like a few free courses online, I think Helium 10 offers one, I spend some money. You know, when you’re starting off, and you’re in a paycheck, every two weeks, you see like, oh, one in $87 subscriptions, a lot of minus X percentage of my paycheck, you know, and 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. You can’t be completely frugal about this, but at the same time, you have to money just not too much money.

Ken 10:53
Yeah. I liked that advice about not buying a $5,000 Fake. So. So Mark, so you’ve went 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 listening to the show, what kind of advice can you share with them on like, what should they be focusing on during that transition? If they if they want to, you know, go full time? Like, what are some things that they can focus on to help them out?

Marc Sauer 11:23
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 throw time, as much time as I could possibly into this, like, stay up 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 comfortable. Like, I’ve got some friends and say, oh, yeah, that sounds cool. I’d love to do it. But they know they have to go through their nightly routine and TV shows go to bed at this time. And no, don’t do any work past this hour. Like you can’t do that. Like if you want to succeed or get ahead, you have to like, make sacrifices, you have to really want it. So and podcasts would be a good thing. I mean, like, you know, as I said, just you want to listen to podcasts, other people’s ideas and what they did and what works and what doesn’t work. Yeah, it’s trying different things.

David 12:11
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? Get out? Tell me about that day?

Marc Sauer 12:32
Well, it’s just pretty much ready to go to the next step. And I mean, it was time everything was working was hard to leave the corporate world because I live in the Bay Area, which, you know, isn’t exactly the cheapest place, it’s probably the most expensive on Earth. But, you know, there’s just so much momentum and just the corporate world is 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 that night, and then I’m going and doing very low end things, like was my corporate job and it’s like this, this can’t work this can’t last. And I guess since I left the corporate world, it’s just everything, it fit in perfectly. It just everything fit in terms of responsibilities, it is a struggle to with, I mean, cashflow, because you’re used to getting a steady paycheck when you’re in the corporate world. But like, when you’re in the business world, your perspective changes because entrepreneurial e commerce startup world because so it could be getting a paycheck, or it could be reinvesting in this or that. And suddenly, it’s a balance that was one of the bigger challenges and find that balance essentially between like going from a steady paycheck to like actually having to pull money out of business. So that was that was one of the bigger challenges, I would say, yeah,

Ken 13:44
some really, really good advice and definitely a failure 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 kind of what motivated you to create and develop these products versus just launching an Alibaba me too product like other sellers

Marc Sauer 14:08
do? Right? That’s a That’s a good question. Um, 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 credit sweatshirts, Baby Baby towels, which is like they talked about or talked about in podcasts ago to meet new products. Like, don’t do something like that you got to you your first product, you have to be some you have to sell my first product was an apparel product. And I noticed this something that was popular at the time on the train in Chicago, actually, 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 trend I launched like I think 100 other products like that, like different kinds of products. It’s different kinds of apparel, other little accessories. And yeah, it’s just So one by one and what was it, I had no one teach me what you shouldn’t shouldn’t do. So none of these are this first brand was no product was like a runaway six figure month product they’re just doing every product was just doing your kit, which was great in 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 amount of money. 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 had in the house. And she’d always complained about this since I was a little kid. It’s not unique to our house either. But I was thinking there has now that I’ve got 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 is good. I really didn’t wasn’t using helium 10 or looking at other 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 engineer and injection molded with an IV or plastic and some other components as well. And so starting off from square one, the layperson knows nothing about injection molding, engineering and designing to releasing this complex product that took like over four years. And that 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 there are easier solutions to and 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 repurposed product, that there’s a million different listings for an Amazon nicer a purpose for one usage. And it just it just took off. And I was able to make lots of different variations from that. That’s the cheaper one. And like different sizes, colors, different components. And it’s got I can I can talk about that a little more. I really like that

Ken 17:09
you know that you solved an everyday problem by creating a product and launching it so that 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?

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Marc Sauer 18:16
Well, that’s hard because like, like, for example, you go into Shark Tank, for example. Everyone’s like, Oh, here’s a problem that solves. And like, I consider this to solve a lot more of the problems from Shark Tank. The problem is because it’s a common product that’s 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 to launch I had to learn this tune and learn this trade off is to launch as many variations as you possibly can. I’m 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, starting March and like for someone for someone to try to catch up or like a Chinese or the mini Chinese and try to copy me like it’s they can’t do that it’s going to be impossible for them to like copy 30 variations and just like because you’re not gonna know which one is in sales. And it’s gonna take a lot of capital to get all the variations captured together. And so I’m pretty much as giving, like, customers an Amazon like no reason to go to another listing besides mine. I like

David 19:23
I really liked that. I think the typical Amazon seller, if they’re being honest, they have failed product launches. Like 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 costs, 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 uncertain T. 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, some people would say you have no business doing injection molding or figuring out types of plastics, select talk about that. figuring it out

Marc Sauer 20:19
there. I’m glad you mentioned deal gambling thing, because when I lived in St. Louis, I dabbled into gambling and I, you know, I read poker rather not gambling, not the analytic poker, but you know, losing my first $100 In poker, and then I’m scouting to 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 go from playing with like the locals and the local casino until like, the best in the world, like I had, I had, that at the time, the highest earning poker pro in the world ever, sitting directly to my left in like, yeah, you’re at a different table, you’re at different risks, but you just have to adjust your mindset to it. That mindset is the most important thing. That’s this was 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 it. And you have to like what I invested there, at that time, the business, I knew pretty much, if you completely failed, it would not sink me. But I believed in a lot. So you hear about all these like modern day business failures. And that’s because they bit off more than they can chew. Whereas the correct step is to take baby steps, but only like like in with gambling only play with what you can afford to lose. You know, I brushed up a lot of it, like for example, the mold in if it was made in the US, for example, it would be around $60,000. Versus in China, it was less than a third of that, and you ordered like a the correct MOQ. So it’s not too much stuff I ordered a little too much in this time. And honestly, my first run with the mold had a lot of issues, they didn’t really do decent QC at all, I thought because I was sourcing from the wood, 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 molded 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 or getting fixed. So we’re making the second run is just about to get shipped out right now.

Ken 22:31
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 he hears mold costs, he’s freaking out like, crap, like, and 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 have been attacked by Chinese 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 23:35
I would say, just launched a new product, I just tried something new with this one, I didn’t just launch it in the USA launched in Canada and England at the same time. And this product took a while like I had a an employees like kind of look down this can use come do some sourcing. And we couldn’t really figure it out. And so looking at competitors, and all the competitors had the first few competitors for a similar product and similar line to my best brand. And we noticed a lot of the reviews were 3.5 to four and they’re all for all the competitors had the same issues essentially. That was crap. It was junk. And they really made it sound like it was something more on the on the listing and I bought one and it was complete junk. It was I can’t emphasize like How was this so deceiving? And so there’s there’s many better ways to do this. And so I read the reviews, I didn’t sourcing, I looked at the different pricing and just looked at different alternatives and how much they were going for and their velocity. And then I’m like, This is good. This works. But on top of that, like, you know, Amazon between when we started now Amazon has been completely like saturated with Chinese sellers and they when they find money they go at it 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 with from education to like entrepreneurship and when Seeing like that, like verified, they want to see the revenue stream that is there for competitors. And so you look at all these things about the demand and the product and you also look at the listings like some competitors listings, there’ll be like, it’ll literally have be sold by Amazon literally and have one product image 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 can competition can’t do. And so you put your face into it, you know, you say this, you’re an American company, you say a brand story. You talk about your brand, you talk about your company, like what the mission statement talking about your history in the past, you don’t you use Photoshop, absolute minimal like, like, for example, for the theoretical, like, I don’t know, if blender in the kitchen, like a high level, high quality listing is going to have someone in it like a real person and maybe with their kid, but like a foreign competitor listening will have like, they’ll do Photoshop hell, it’ll just be like someone just completely booked versus Photoshop, and they’re thrown in there with bad grammar and like, what do you think the like, typical American customer wants to buy from? Like, you have to like, take those things into account. And it’s going to make a big difference.

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David 26:17
Now my next question, it’s two parts and still going along with product research, product development, how many we’ll call it like prospects, like ideas? are you evaluating for every one product launch?

Marc Sauer 26:31
I’d say probably? 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.

David 26:40
Okay. 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? That’s,

Marc Sauer 27:10
that’s a really good question. I mean, for a lot of the products I launched, there were no competitors before they became very popular. So you can’t really do that you 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 that year that like, you don’t think you’re gonna be popular, but just order enough for you like, I’m okay losing. So once you validate everything else that like there’s there couldn’t be demand that this is popular, but this is close enough. And this sells and the competitor sells for that much, you kind of get an idea how much it is. But you also for risk management, you kind of just you buy anywhere from, I do this for new products, anywhere from like a couple 100 to 1000, depending on the price. And sometimes they take forever to sell out. And they’re not really a failure, or success. Other times, 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, I would say, because you also have to factor in to like how much time it’s 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 information as possible from whatever source you can not use helium 10.

Ken 28:24
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. 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, if it’s a unique product that doesn’t exist on the market, there’s no data for it. And so I liked 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 like that takes a lot of

Marc Sauer 29:03
finesse like that. I said this before, I can’t stress enough for anyone listening, once you get into this, don’t take something that was a million variations, and launch it and think it’s going to be the same. It’s it’s un differentiated enough where people

Ken 29:16
are going to care. Yeah, absolutely. Let’s talk about I know you’ve launched a product that’s unique. We talked about a lot of these and one that you 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 patents and then like what does it look like from you know, kind of from start to finish of your journey?

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Marc Sauer 30:25
Yeah, that’s, that’s a really good question too. It’s a whole different world on this is kind of the tricky thing. And like, I was fortunate enough to be lucky about this. And this is for anyone listening who’s thinking about that, just to remember that you will talk to patent lawyers who are from big firms who want to make their numbers, you want to get numbers better. So they might tell you just to patent something, just patent to spend the money in us to patent it. But a lot of times, you don’t need patents, I mean, that it might be hard to protect, or some might not want something from a patent Exactly. Or might find it valuable enough to copy it. A lot of times people want patents is well, because investors and like investors that if you ever want to sell the 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 launch in there with the exact same design and catch up in terms of reviews and like in quality and everything. Like I mean, that’s kind of the truth. Like for a lot of products, there’s there’s some things that like my most like I said, my most popular products you can’t patent because it’s already common product. But I started to get my my injection molded piece patented, because it was so much money just to to put in there and I it was gonna be a blockbuster product. And so I wanted to get the nice patent two. And there’s two kinds of patents. I’m not an expert on this and spin. I applied for this in January. So it’s it’s been a while there’s a design patent, which is cheaper, faster, it’s pretty much you can’t I can I understand you had an issue with this here at one point. It’s pretty much you can’t make this exact design. But from what I understand, you can slightly change the design and it doesn’t violate the original design patent, or there’s utility patent, which means it’s the utility of this product or house, the house really made or manufactured, you don’t have a claim on that. You are you have a claim that being unique and it’s good for 20 years, it’s pretty much building a moat around a product. And so a competitor of mine, Brexit, like they brag that Oh, patented, patented patented, and I looked at their product, and it’s patented in Europe, but it’s not found in the United States. And so people use that a lot of times it’s kind of brag about it. I mean, I honestly don’t think if I didn’t pass this, there would be a lot of competition for I don’t think anyone would violate this, I think it’d be very hard for someone to violate my patent. It’s just it’s for investors. So like, for investors, I want to get outside investment. Or if I want to sell the company, I’d say it takes a while to to get to it. I looked at them just 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’m expecting the next year or two I should I shouldn’t be getting it. It’s not it’s a little longer than a trademark.

David 33:22
Would you do it again, no one wants to know now actually, I

Marc Sauer 33:25
can’t really say that because I I’m relaunching my my blockbuster product. And it depends, once you release a product to the market, you have, or it’s publicly disclosed from my understanding, um, this is not legal advice. I’m not happy where you got one year to file a patent on it before, it becomes like, you can’t do that anymore. And so I would launch it, I would, I would find that my product launch with public disclosure. So day one, you’re launching it publicly 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 get. Otherwise, I mean, it’s a patents aren’t cheap, you know, 12,000 bucks minimum to get that 12,000 bucks plus extra fees. If there’s an office action from the USPTO. It depends on which profit you think you’re going to make from it from a lifecycle and just kind of how big you’re looking for this product.

David 34:23
Did you go through an attorney or an agency?

Marc Sauer 34:27
I went through an attorney that my friend recommended he was it was interesting because he pretty much told me a non vs answer like you’re not going to get the same thing from an a patent attorney who’s you can make a lot of money off of you versus an independent person. You want to try to independent figure because they’re their patent company, the company law firm that specializes in patents are going to try to sell you something a lot of times even if you don’t need it so it might be hard for you want to try to find someone who’s gonna give you free advice in this friend that was learning that was recommended to me And initially he went back into private practice. So he referred me to someone, and they specialize in patents. And yeah, took it from there.

Ken 35:08
A couple of follow up questions on that was now so you had mentioned, your arrange for your patent was about 12 grand. Was it a utility patent or design patent?

Marc Sauer 35:17
Those utility patent? Okay. It’s a lot cheaper, but there’s just not a lot of more protection on it.

Ken 35:22
Okay. Yeah. So so so utility patents definitely like the higher end one where it where it protects you from like functionality where like, whereas the design patent, someone can just sidestep it with just a different small little change to it, or whatever. So, yeah, and then one last question is, so you mentioned, it’s been almost a year now. Now, what did they say? And what’s the standard time for for it to be like, completely, you know, I guess active or, or completed was it like two years, three years,

Marc Sauer 35:51
I don’t remember, like I looked at last night. In the Pocket Casts, but I, I looked up 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 that I’m designing, which is similar to that the original product. But um, before you apply for a patent, you want to make sure that your product solves, so I didn’t apply for it until the design was solid. And if you’re getting a 3d mold made, or 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, and you want it to function perfectly. So I’m designing something right now I’m on the third, 3d print. And I don’t I mean, I have to make sure that design is good, because it’s designed to work. So I’m probably going to patent a patent make it another patent, but there’s a there’s going to be some more work to make sure that actually the design is perfect. And there’s no more flaws to it.

David 36:54
That seems like a really practical approach to to this whole process. nickk Kind of makes it a little less intimidating.

Marc Sauer 37:01
Right? Totally. But um, like you talked to a lot of like, IP law firms are like, Oh, just since independence in the patent, but I’m like, fumbling for the person like, no, absolutely not, I’m going to make sure my design is perfect before filing a patent. Because this new product I’m making, I don’t even know if it’s, it’s the design is going to work because I’m trying some different things, this risk management tool.

Ken 37:23
One question is the products that you have now that you filed a patent on? Has anybody tried to knock you off?

Marc Sauer 37:29
No, people? No, it’d be hard to knock that off. But um, there’s like me two products that are somewhat similar, and they’re just complete jumps. And you see that in the reviews and what people say about them, and

David 37:41
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 me 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 12 to 18 months? What do you what’s on the horizon?

Marc Sauer 38:21
Sure, that’s a great question I am planning on last in the last year I expanded to England and beefed up 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 products that are just going to make a little bit of profit just going to be okay. Focusing on on a high income products that I can not just launched in America, but globally all at the same time. Like I said, my last product I did, you can really make a lot of games that way, get ahead quite a bit. And on top of that, I’m trying to build out a B2B segment where I would sell my products to different companies and government agencies, I actually just had that someone from the Marine Corps reach out today to fill out a form 899 before they buy some of my products. I don’t know what they want to buy it from but uh, not just use Amazon, but go b2b Because you’re gonna get bigger orders bigger margins, not to pay all the fees and PPC as well, less competition. So that’s my real goal for 2023 expand internationally and go business to business.

David 39:33
Awesome. And what about beyond that 510 years down the road? I’d like

Marc Sauer 39:37
to get into more technology, heavy things. I mean, I live in Silicon Valley people here they’re more like they’re used to taking large sums of venture capital making a software as a service thing or some app or something with discussing profit margins and just running with it. So So you kind of expand my, I guess, ecommerce, just like b2b I’d like to keep that in mind. The exactly like a way to involve more technology in my products, things that kind of scale up faster and bigger technology footprint. So that’s kind of like going to be what I’m, I keep my eye on for sure.

David 40:12
Very nice. Very nice. Well, I’ll tell you what 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 of great relationships that have have lasted this long and will into the future. So over to you, Ken.

Ken 40:36
Yeah, absolutely. So anything else we want to cover guys before we get into the fire round? All right.

David 40:41
Thank you ready to go?

Marc Sauer 40:42
Are you raising fire round? Yeah. So let’s go for it. All right.

Ken 40:46
What is your favorite book?

Marc Sauer 40:47
My favorite book? I’ll give you two books and reading right now. The corner my desk ones, the extras printers playbook. Another one is from zero to one by Peter Thiel.

Ken 40:58
Okay, excellent. What are your hobbies? My hobbies?

Marc Sauer 41:00
Besides working my business? I’ve got a two year old son and I like a mountain bike in Northern California. It’s absolutely amazing to that around here.

Ken 41:10
Really cool. What is one thing that you do not miss about working for the man

Marc Sauer 41:15
that performance reviews about people having to give you bad feedback, just because they have to give you bad feedback. Like you’re doing great and everything. But you forgotten your TPS report. So sorry.

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Ken 41:29
I totally agree. All right.

Marc Sauer 41:30
I can I can expand on this question for hours.

Ken 41:33
Yeah. Oh, gotcha. Yeah. What do you think sets apart successful ecommerce entrepreneurs from those who give up fail or never get started, you have

Marc Sauer 41:42
to want it, you just absolutely have to want it. You have to be willing to get up at whatever time or go to bed whatever 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. Boss, people have done made this path before out of the corporate world, you just have to focus and try new things. keep innovating. But don’t gamble everything at once. Use risk management, but you just have to, you have to want it. You have to try and keep trying new things.

Ken 42:11
Awesome. Excellent advice.

David 42:12
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 recognized that they weren’t happy in corporate America. And they started investing in themselves in 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 and it’s really cool to, to hear your story and watch you develop over over time. So

Marc Sauer 42:41
Well, it’s been an interesting journey, seeing a start from three guys with like corporate jobs in a working or meeting at the tavern to to right now. It’s, it’s quite a transition.

David 42:51
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? Sure.

Marc Sauer 43:01
I would say either LinkedIn. My name is Mark Sauer ma RC S A U ER or through Twitter, which is beached B E. Ch. Ed. That’s my handle.

David 43:15
Very nice. Very nice. Thank you and look forward to staying in touch. 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.