There are no limits to how successful you can be if you want to build a business and start out by selling on eBay. Today we tell the story of Sam and his business Jazooli which he built from scratch with the aim to retire young and be financially independent.
Starting early and learning the online trading craft
Sam started early on eBay, by the age of 13 he was selling on his mums eBay account and quickly started making a few thousand a month. He decided to go into business with brother and by the time Sam turned 17 they were running a business turning over more than £1 million a year business selling memory cards for the PSP handheld gaming machine – It was a case of the right product at the right time with Sam investing every penny he had to purchase his first 2,000 memory cards to kick start trading.
One of the key features of a successful business is riding the wave but realising when it’s time to quit and diversify. Same realised memory cards weren’t the future so started migrating the business to sell smartphone phone cases.
Jazooli grows from home to warehouse
In the early days, Sam started trading from his bedroom, expanded into brothers bedroom and then their parents agreed to let them use the garage. Spotting that the early iPhones were black they sold white covers offing consumers a way to differentiate their handsets and business boomed but, as many online merchants have discovered, eventually chinese sellers entered the market and that signalled yet another change of direction and Sam migrated to ecigarrettes.
With a burgeoning business, working from home was no longer an option and they moved into 2500 sq foot warehouse which was a big step for young entrepreneurs facing rent and bills for the first time. They sold out their stock on Amazon and were expanding… but then Amazon banned ecigarrettes at a time the business hadn’t concentrated on any other product line!
The brothers took the decision to separate ecigarrettes out into a separate company run by Sams brother and Sam looked for a new product line. He purchased a 20 foot container of dog beds which sold out almost instantly. As was his practice he instantly ordered four more container loads and soon built the new Bunty Pet Products business arm up to 50 containers a month. Just one of his dog beds now has over 4,000 product reviews on Amazon.
How Jazooli grew by diversifying product lines
Looking at the ecigarrettes business which was becoming a crowded market, they decided to forget about ecigarrettes themselves and concentrate on the liquid. They started to self manufacture to cut costs down until in 2016 they sold the ecigarrettes business for a substantial sum and Sam discovered he had became a millionaire at the age of 23… Perhaps a mistake as the company is now valued at 70million!
Sam then started to look at makeup and cosmetics and again built the business to multiple containers per month. Sam then decided to source the skins from china and manufacture the makeup in house to cut down on costs. They now do deals with B&M, Dunelm and other high street retailers and, with their new LaRoc brand cosmetics website recently launched, they traded £50k in the first month. Rather than selling white label products they built their own range and are now in the process of setting up in the USA.
The launch became rocket propelled when Trendmood1 with 1.4 million followers reposted a LaRoc Instagram post and instantly the LaRoc website went mad with orders flooding in. The launch of their Artistry book was again reposted by Trendmood1 which resulted in almost the entire shipment being sold on preorder before the stock even arrived.
Now, having expanded into three different units, they’ve consolidated and moved to a single site with two units next door to each other making a 36,000 square feet warehouse where manufacturing takes place. This was a huge investment in kitting out the new facility with racking and machinery, but the investment is now starting to pay off.
Key learnings from Jazooli
Sam’s biggest piece of advice to would be online merchants is to test products and chase the money on the profitable stock that sells. Start with small quantities and if they don’t sell get rid even at a loss and if it’s a success then invest in more stock. Don’t be afraid to diversify as Sam has done which is why he got out of the memory card and ecigarrettes business and his two main product lines are now Bunty (pet products) and LaRoc (makeup).
Managing a large online business
Obviously managing this burgeoning empire is a challenge and so Sam uses Linnworks to cut down on staff for order management and integration with Wayfair, Groupon and all the other platforms that they sell on. Looking for a customer support package Sam was an early adopter of Replyco and has stuck with them through alpha and beta testing to help bug test and experience of running eBay, Amazon, Website, email and live chat messages through a single solution, Sam rates Replyco as ‘phenomenal’ – Rather than needing three support staff he now only needs one enabling him to redeploy staff.
Sam has now got to the stage where major high street retailers are knocking on his door and he’s being forced to put deals with them on hold as demand is outstripping manufacturing capability.
Incidentally, Sam is also back in the ecigarrettes business as his three year non-compete has ended… this is a guy who just can’t seem to slow down! Running this business empire isnt’ going to be forever, but for now Sam enjoys it and thrives off it.