If you use either Wholesale or Retail Arbitrage to make money selling brand name products on Amazon, knowing your competitor’s inventory levels, as well as how much inventory they have in transit from one Amazon DC to another plays a critical role in your inventory management & purchase decisions.

This was the exact problem faced by many sellers when Mark Crawford he first started selling on Amazon, and unlike everyone else, Mark decided to hire a developer to build him a Chrome extension that would make this data easily accessible.

In today’s episode, Mark, founder of the extremely popular HowMany? Chrome extension shares with us the journey of turning a very simple idea into what has become a highly successful software company that affords Mark and his family the lifestyle of their dreams.

Full Transcript

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Trent: Hey, there Bright Ideas fans. Welcome back to another episode of the Bright Ideas E-Commerce Podcast. As always, I am your host, Trent Dyrsmid. And I am here to help you discover what is working in the world of e-commerce by shining a light on the tools, the tactics, the strategies that are in use by today’s leading entrepreneurs and bringing you their stories. 

So, in today’s episode, we’re going to be talking to Mark, who I will introduce in just a second. Before I get to that, I want to give a shout out to someone who left me a really, really nice review. A fellow by the name of Brooke Craven. So, Brooke, thank you so much for the review. 

He wrote, 

“Awesome podcast. Trent, host of the bright ideas podcast, highlights all aspects of selling, entrepreneurship and more. And this is a can’t-miss podcast. The host and expert guests offer insightful advice and information that is helpful to anyone that listens.” 

So, I cannot tell you how much I appreciate any time a listener takes the time to leave a review because I know that iTunes kind of makes it a pain in the ass to leave the review. So, again Brooke, thank you so much for leaving that review. 

And we also get a fairly regular steady stream of emails from people. And I realized in listening to someone else’s podcast today, that I have been completely remiss in thanking folks for doing that stuff. 

To all of you who’ve sent me an email in the last month or two or three to express gratitude for the show, I really, really appreciate that. 

One woman actually, Shayna, is her name and she’s from repurposedhouse.com. She actually sent me a video. She was so stoked on the interview that I did with Jason recently that she recorded about a three-minute interview just to say thank you, so I thought that was pretty darn awesome. 

So, with all of that preamble out of the way, let’s welcome our guest, Mark Crawford. Mark, thank you so much for taking some time to come and be on the show. 

Mark: Yeah you got it. Happy to be here. 

Trent: So, Mark, for the people who don’t know who you are, let’s start with that. Who are you and what do you do? 

Mark: Yeah. Well, thanks again, Trent, for having me on here. This is awesome. It’s great to be able to tell my story and I’m really excited about entrepreneurship. So, this is awesome. 

Like you said, my name is Mark Crawford. I’m married; been married for… coming up on my 12th year anniversary. And I have three kids; 9, 7 and 4. We live in Des Moines, Iowa and lived here the whole time. So, the whole time I’ve been married, we lived in Des Moines.

I started me entrepreneurship story probably like four or five years ago. 

Trent: Yeah. And the company you run today is called? 

Mark: It’s called Dreamers Create. It’s the parent company. It’s because we want to we want to dream big, we want to take big risks and create something beautiful. So, that’s kind of the thing behind that. 

But my flagship software is called How Many? It’s a chrome extension and mobile app that helps Amazon sellers discover how many their competitors have in stock. 

Trent: And why is that a big deal? 

Mark: Why is that a big deal? That’s a great question. For me, I started it because I wanted to know how many they had in stock during quarter four. 

Trent: Because at the time, you were an Amazon seller and you were doing retail arbitrage; right? 

Mark: Yeah. That’s right; you found me out. Yeah. Because I was like things are moving so fast and I don’t want to sell it for cheaper than when I can’t. You know, if I can sell it for 24 bucks instead of selling it for 18 bucks, you know, like let’s say two people are at 18 bucks and the first person’s got four in stock and the next person’s got five in stock, but this aint selling like stinking 65 a month or whatever a day during quarter four, the stuff just flies. 

So, I was like, “I think there’s a better way.” So, then I started doing the 999 trick and adding it to cart and everything. I was like, Men, this I’d taking forever.” I’m like, “There has to be a better way to do this.” 

And I looked I didn’t see anything. So, then I developed it and it’s been taken off. 

Trent: So, have you ever developed any software prior to this? 

Mark: So, before this, I was really into like… I tried to make my hand at SEO; doing SEO stuff. So, I got this PC software called {indistinct 5:59}. It’s a Windows-only desktop PC software and it helps you create like automation programs. So, you can do screen scraping, you can do captures; all that stuff. 

So, I made a Hotmail account creator. So, that was that was my thing. And I probably sold like stinking, I know, over 10 thousand of those things. It was ridiculous. 

Trent: Back in the blackhat days. 

Mark: Back in the blackhat days. That’s right. That’s right. 

Trent: So, in the event that anyone listening to this, who’s an Amazon seller who doesn’t know what “How Many?” is, it is the only plugin that I’m aware of (I think you actually have a competitor now) but we’ve been using it for years. It’s a wonderful little tool to instantly see how much inventory the other sellers have. 

If you’re an Amazon seller, you undoubtedly already know that this plugin exists. And so, I just wanted to fill in that little gap. 

Mark: Yeah. Thank you. Yeah, funny story. Right after I launched it, it took off really big; launched with affiliates and got off to a really good start because there’s nothing else like it. 

Trent: Yeah. 

Mark: So, big deal. Holy cow. New insight on Amazon. Big deal. And it was so fast. So, the same people tons of time. And I saw an Upwork. There is actually a job posting on Upwork. The guy’s exact description was, “Looking for a developer to make a Chrome extension like “How Many?” He’s like, “Make it like this” and linked right to my extension. 

Trent: Lovely.

Mark: So, I was like, “Good job {indistinct 7:49}. Do not innovate. Good job.” 

Trent: Yeah.

Mark: So, yeah, we had a lot of copycats. And I’ll get into this more through the interview {indistinct 7:55}. You know, we’ve had our ups and downs and a lot of the copycats fallen away because of the downs and they weren’t able to recover. 

Trent: Yeah. Okay. So, let’s kind of dive into… And today, you have tens of thousands users; like how much of this thing have you sold? 

Mark: Yeah, I think if you log onto the Chrome Web Store, you can see it’s like over 15 thousand users right now are using it. So, a ton of people. 

Trent: Okay. So, before you started this, you had done your Hotmail desktop app, you were doing retail arbitrage versus really the thing that helped you to discover that, hey, you were basically scratching your own niche. 

So, now you realize, “Oh, right. There’s this problem that I have and there’s no solution in the marketplace that I can find. So, I think I’m going to build something.” I’m assuming you don’t write code yourself. So, what did you do? What were the actions that you took to get the ball rolling? 

Trent: Yeah. So, it was really awesome; like how it all got started. I put a job on Upwork and I said, “This is what I want.” And a developer replied to me and he said, “Hey, actually, I have a little bit of code that I wrote that might work well with this. And so, we should actually be able to get the spun out pretty quick.” And I go, “Okay, cool. Let’s go.” 

So, he had it back to me in like a couple weeks; like the first draft. And and it was working and I was blown away. And then I went to Prosper Show, when it was in Utah and I showed Nate McAllister it and he’s he runs a Facebook group and he’s just like, “Holy cow. Man, this is awesome. So, I’m going to tell my Facebook group about this.” And that was really the catalyst that kind of took off. 

Trent: Nice. So, yeah, you’d mentioned earlier that you did affiliate. So, your first launch really was just with Nate being your sole affiliate or had you lined up other affiliates at that point? 

Mark: No, that was it. He’s got a blog and a Facebook group and it’s fairly good size and he’s got fairly good influence over them. So, when he recommends something, then it takes off. And plus there is nothing else like it at the time. So, it was an easy sell. 

Trent: Yeah. So, you get the first launch. And actually before we get to it, let me back up a little bit because I now am a co-founder of a software company and I know how detailed you need to be in your requirements documents when you’re creating software. It doesn’t sound like you were too terribly detailed; like did you do wire frames and did you do… make it what you wanted the interface to look like or you basically said, “I just wanted to show a inventory level of this part on the Amazon screen and make it make it do that.” 

Mark: Yeah, I said, “Click the button and show me the inventory level on the offer listings page on the screen.” 

Trent: And that’s it. 

Mark: And that was it; like there is no like a little pop up like there is now, there’s no totaling, there is no estimated sales, there is no… I mean, the tool is totally like evolved. 

Trent: Evolved

Mark: Right? Yeah, big time. I mean, we’ve totally moved away. I don’t even use that developer anymore because he was flaky. Good guy, but just flaky. And then I’ll get into more of it, you know, like why we had to move away later on. 

Trent: Okay. So, once you had done your first launch, what happened next in your entrepreneur’s journey? Was there things that happened as a result? Do you remember how many you sold in the first launch? 

Mark: I don’t. I remember thinking like, “Man, this would be really cool if I reached $5 thousand a month.” 

Trent: Yeah. 

Mark: I remember thinking that. And then I reached that pretty quick. And then I was like, “Wow.” Because I’ve never experienced anything like that before like for monthly reoccurring. 

Trent: Yeah.

Mark: So, now, we’ve surpassed that and stuff, but it’s just like, “Wow. How small was I thinking back then?” It’s like, “There are so there are so many people that need this tool.” I can’t remember the numbers though, Trent. I can’t. It was coming up on four years ago. 

Trent: So, after that at first launch, was there any surprises in the way of support or bugs or things that kind of tripped you up after that initial success? 

Mark: Oh, yeah; big time. Because I had no idea what I was doing, I had no idea that the developer used like kind of his own API keys from Amazon because at the time, we were using the product advertising API to get the data and I had no idea even how he was doing that. 

So, sure enough, those keys stopped working. Amazon put the kibosh on it because we’re having too much traffic flow through these keys. And all of sudden, the tool stops working and I’m like, “Dude, what’s up? He’s like, “Oh, I need to make more keys.” So, then he makes more keys and I’m like, “I have no idea we even needed to do that.” 

And then like the sign up process was buggy and I was getting a duplicate sign ups and people were paying twice and I was having to refund them. And like, oh, man. Yeah, it was horrible. It was horrible. I can’t believe I survived. I at least tried to treat people right though. You know, I tried to treat people how I would want to be treated. 

Mark: So how did you navigate your way through the API key issue? Did you just keep cranking out more API keys or did you figure out a different way to do it? 

Trent: Yeah, I ended up just cranking out more API keys, figured out a way to automate that and then… Actually, I might have used UBot to create a bot to automate that; I’m not sure though. 

But anyways, Amazon shut all that down. So, we don’t need to do that anymore. I can’t remember all the specifics, but it was nuts. 

Trent: Yeah. 

Mark: Because it was growing so fast. 

Trent: Yeah. 

Mark: And I’m just like, “What in the world? 

Trent: When all that fast growth was happening, was that as a result of word of mouth. So, you got this first launch from Nate that gives you a customer base. Were you then lining up other affiliates right away? Is that what fueled the growth? 

Mark: Yeah. Yeah, I think I have over 40 affiliates now. 

Trent: OK. In just a moment, we’re going to come back. I want to talk to you more about how you generated those affiliate relationships. Before we get into that, a quick message from the sponsor of this episode. This episode is brought to you by PayAbility. 

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Trent: All right, Mark. So, let’s talk about affiliate recruitment because that’s actually something that’s going to be happening more for me and my software company, going over the next couple of months. 

So, you’ve got one win under your belt, you’ve got some traction, you’ve had some speed bumps and potholes along the way; how did you go about recruiting more affiliates? 

Mark: Yeah, it’s a great question. So, I set up an affiliate portal. What I used for my billing is called Chargebee. That’s what I use for like my backend billing and checkouts and all that stuff; they do a great job. Been really happy with them. 

And then they integrate with a couple companies. And the one I chose was called Refersion. I’m not super pleased with them, but it’s just like what I started with and definitely had some bumps in the road with them, big time. Like their stuff wasn’t working right with Chargebee. I was like thinking about dropping them and going with my Dynamo Leads or something or (I don’t know) some other affiliate software that integrated with Chargebee. But then they got their ducks in a row and it’s been working well. 

But in order for me to like get them on, get new affiliates. Honestly, like I opened it up so I put a help document on my helpdesk about my affiliate program and how to sign up and put the link on there. So, they can just sign up. 

I don’t really see right now any downside to limiting affiliates. I know some people do, which is great. I mean, it’s their business, they can do what they want. I have really seen that. 

So, I have people from all different ends of the spectrum; people that don’t even speak my language that write me in different languages, but then the ones that know that I speak English and they write me in English. But it’s great and they’re really nice. And they’re helping large groups of Amazon sellers. And I’m like, “Well this is great.” 

So, it’s been mainly word of mouth, but I did reach out to a few big influencers that had impacted me when I was going on through my journey. And I reached out to them and I said, “Hey, I’ve got this tool.” 

It’s kind of cool and it’s kind of weird. So, in the Amazon community, you have an Amazon Seller Community. I feel like you have like a bunch of different segments of {indistinct 18:51} and you can do really well in a certain group. 

So, like the initial launch with Nate was awesome, but then he knows so many people. But then you kind of stop and you kind of get this thing like this big. But then I wanted to go to another segment, kind of like another planet and I wanted to like build on to that too. 

So, then because like a lot of these people, I was reaching out to them and I was like, “Well, have you heard about this?” They’re like, “No” and I’m like, “Wow, that’s crazy because it seems like it’s all the rage over here.” So, I was like, “Well, here’s a free trial. Check it out, let me know what you think.” They’re like, “Cool, I love it. Let’s go.” I’m like, “All right. Right on.” And some of those people are like my best affiliates that I reached out to personally. 

Trent: And that was just cold outreach. You just crafted a short email saying, “This is my thing. This is what it does.” 

Mark: I think I might have reached out to them on Messenger. 

Trent: Okay.

Mark: Yeah. And if that didn’t work, then it reach out to them on email. But I’ve had pretty good luck with Messenger; reaching out to other influencers in the Amazon community and just developing relationships with them. You know, it’s and it’s fun to talk shop. 

Trent: Yeah. 

Mark: You know, help each other out and all that stuff. 

Trent: Yeah, that’s why I have a podcast because I like talking shop. 

Mark: That’s right. So, I’m on air because I like talking shops. 

Trent: Absolutely. All right. So, you continued to grow your affiliate base by reaching out to some influencers, by putting some stuff on your help desk so that other people who maybe weren’t on your radar screen could come and realize that you had an affiliate program. Your base of affiliates grew. Did you go through and plan product launches? Your camera just turned off. 

Mark: Sorry about that.

Trent: Did you go through planned product launches with the influencers only and then you would just let the other folks just sort of promote to their list whenever the heck they wanted with no coordination from you or what did it look like? 

Mark: Yeah. So, it kind of worked out two different ways. So, some people just wanted like the affiliate commission, which is cool. So, I let them sign up and then they do the affiliate commission. Actually, three different ways. 

Some people wanted the affiliate commission and a coupon code for their list. So, then I would do that for them, but it would be a reduced coupon code because they were still getting their affiliate commission. 

And then some people, they might have like a paid group and they’re just like, “You know what? I just want a group to get the absolute best price. I don’t care about the affiliate commission. I don’t care about any of that stuff.” And I was like, “Holy cow. There’s people out there like this. This is awesome.” So, I would just give him like a sweet coupon code because I’d give him like the affiliate commission, plus like another 10 percent or something. And those people, that’s like the highest coupon redemption I think I’ve got too. It’s just awesome. 

Trent: Okay. So, now you’ve got the ball rolling pretty well, you’ve got fast growth. But with fast growth always comes unexpected challenges, potholes, scars. Tell me about some of the real difficult periods and how you managed to navigate your way through them. 

Mark: Oh, man. One of the most painful parts; so painful. Maybe probably one of the most painful times in my life, I would say. Probably second; second most painful, maybe. It’s up there anyways. So, it doesn’t matter. 

It was over Christmas. So, two years ago; two Christmases ago. And things are chugging along, here come with like four days away from Christmas; something like that. In the heart of like Q4 is cranking. Amazon decides to shut it all down and they turn off the product advertising and they limit it to 10. 

So, Keeper at the time was doing some stock stuff, but not really that well, boom, they’re limited to 10. Everybody is limited to 10 and I’m just like, “What is going on? 

Trent: Meaning showing 10 units of inventory? Is that what you mean by limited to 10? 

Mark: Yeah. So, anything, 10. 10 and under. So, if it was 11, they’ll show 10. 

Trent: Yeah.

Mark: So, it’s down. And at the time, all I had is my flaky developer guy. Because things are just chugging along, no problems. So, all I had was this flaky developer guy that didn’t want to work. 

No, actually, I had started another relationship with another developer development firm out in California. And they had all these grandiose ideas about how to make it better and more stability and all this stuff and I’m like, “Oh, cool. Let’s go.” 

It goes down, they can’t help me. I’m like, “Dude, I need this up.” And they’re like, “Well, my other guy’s getting married and I’ve got this other than going on.” I’m like, “Dude, you don’t understand. I down; like this needs to get fixed now. Like here’s ways to do it; let’s do it.” 

And they couldn’t make it happen. Every time we would turn it on and get traffic to it, they would blow the servers up. Like they had no clue on how to do anything. 

So, then through that process, I found a guy on Upwork actually. And he was super expensive and I was like, “I don’t care. I need to get this fixed.” So, I reached out to him and he gave me this idea and I go, “Okay, cool. But I think we’re going to go another way.” 

So, then I have stayed with my guy on California. I mean, it’s so bad. I’m like in my Christmas Eve service, getting slacking with my developers on this; like at church. It was so bad. Yeah, so bad. 

And people are pissed, which makes sense; I’d be pissed too. But then it was down for like over a month, I think. I mean, it was so so painful. I mean, I’m like refunding, extending people’s billings out, giving all this free time away. 

Trent: Yeah. 

Mark: I mean, I honestly thought it was the end of the end. You know, I’m just like, “I don’t know how I’m going to recover from this.” 

But thank God these people stuck with me and saw that, “Hey, this guy’s trying. He’s giving me my free time. He’s refund me” and all this stuff. And we got back up. But you know what? And we’re back up and we’re better for it. Because I found an awesome development firm to work with and I’ve been working with them ever since. 

And we’ve had some hiccups along the way. Actually, last Christmas, I like to now call it “The Amazon Christmas Surprise” because now, it seems like every time around Christmas time, Amazon does something weird with their systems.

So, Amazon through another hiccup last Christmas and we were only down for like 16 hours maybe versus a month. So, it’s like, “Holy cow; way better.” 

Trent: Yeah. 

Mark: And everybody was down. I mean, everybody that does this process. I mean, it affects everybody. It’s not just us. 

Trent: How did you find the development firm? 

Mark: I found them through Upwork. 

Trent: Okay.

Mark: I’ve been working with them for over a year now. 

Trent: And so, they are an overseas firm, I’m assuming. 

Mark: No. I said, “Forget it with overseas firms, going local. They’re there in Louisiana. 

Trent: Oh, okay. 

Mark: Yep. 

Trent: So, did it did it actually turn out to be more expensive or did they develop so much faster that it’s not more expensive? 

Mark: Actually, I think it’s not as expensive because you don’t have the onboarding time of new developers. Because I was in a cycle of trying to find somebody new like every three months. And it’s just like you give them the code and they’re like, “I don’t know to do with this. This is a mess.” and all this stuff. 

So, it’s like now and we want to develop new features and fix these bugs or do this or that, I mean, they’re like, “Yeah, I know this. Let’s go.” You know, it’s like no big deal. So, yeah it is a lot more efficient. 

But now, I’m working on a retainer with them. So, I mean, they’re full time because that’s what I need at this stage. I’m dying trying to use Host Gator and all this stuff, you know, all the {indistinct 28:02 – 03}. 

We’re like back in the day; right? I mean, back in the day, it was like I was dying to go in as cheap as I could because I was like minimal viable product. 

Trent: Yeah. 

Mark: But it’s validated. And then it just took off and everything broke and I’m like, “Crap. Now, I need to plan for that.” So, I had to get people that are smarter than me. 

Trent: Yeah. I was very lucky in that department because my co-founder, who’s a very good friend of mine for 10 years, had already built and sold a software company. And so, he really knew how to deal with scale and code documentation and proper ways to manage code and versions and repositories and all the things that I know anything about. 

So, all I’ve had to do is have a hand in developing the product and we were able to bring our product to market so far for far less than I expected that we would have and that’s been a good thing. 

So, earlier in our interview, you mentioned the guy who put the ad on Upwork and said, “Yeah, just make me something that does this “How Many?” thing here.” We’ll call him a knockoff. I’m assuming that happened more than one time? 

Mark: Yeah. Yeah. 

Trent: So, why didn’t they put a dent in your business? 

Mark: I don’t know. I mean, maybe someone did, but it seemed like people were always coming back. Because these people would launch for like… So, like one person launched for free. You know, they’re just like, “Oh, we’ll just do it for free.” And I’m just like, “I don’t know how you can do it for free. I mean, it’s like unless you got some other game plan in the background that you’re doing. But there’s like fixed costs of this stuff.” 

Trent: Yeah. 

Mark: But then they’d get their first hiccup and then it wouldn’t work anymore and then people are like, “Well, I need a solution that works.” I’m like, “Here we are.” 

Trent: Yeah. So, just the fact that you’ve been around longer and you’ve got brand reputation has really been your ace in the whole as it were. 

Mark: I think so. Yeah. I mean, we’re the first ones. 

Trent: Yeah. 

Mark: And we’ve continued to innovate. Because now we’re the first ones to see past our limits and to see reserved inventory and inventory that’s in transfer status; nobody else is doing that. 

Trent: So, let’s talk about some of those new features. First of all, rattle off say two or three of the biggest ones that you’ve developed or you’re developing. 

Mark: Yeah. So, we had the Variation Viewer, which was cool; that was the first of its kind. There’s been lots of knock offs since then, which is really good for like shoes and we were the first ones to do the review. Maybe not the first ones, but one of the first ones to try to gauge popularity of a child variation by the reviews. So, we could see what reviews apply to what variation. We were able to break that down in an Excel table form online and then show like the stock. 

And then for Amazon, the Amazon Flips. We developed the feature that showed the current price with their stock and then the next price with their stocks and you could like, “Oh, cool. This person’s like at 20 bucks, but the next person is at 40 bucks. So, I’m going to buy all these 20 bucks and just sell it at 40 bucks.” So, really easy that way. 

But the newest feature that I’m really am really excited about; what we call the Limit Buster. And that’s the one that allows you to see past 999. So, we start at three thousand. When we get to three thousand we just stop because we’re like because it takes long to find the number and the higher we go, the longer it takes and we’re just like, “You know what? If there’s three thousand items, are you really going to mess with it?” 

Trent: Yeah, you’ll probably not. 

Mark: {indistinct 32:05} as a seller. So, we’re able to see past the 999, able to see past seller limits. So, if a seller puts 27, Amazon doesn’t a lot. We can see their true inventory. 

And also, like especially around quarter four, is to see the transfer status. Because a lot of times, Amazon will be transferring stuff to warehouse to warehouse and then it will show, “Oh, they’ll have three in stock” but actually they have five hundred that are being transferred to California from Tennessee or whatever. Yeah. 

But while they’re on transfer status, a lot of times, Amazon won’t show that. They won’t show the real number because it’s not available and Amazon doesn’t know for sure when it will be available. But we’re able to see that number on FBA items that are in the new condition only. 

Trent: And how did you get your ideas for more features? Do you run a community with your users and they’re submitting ideas or are you thinking this stuff up in a vacuum? 

Mark: Thinking it up. Well, I get support tickets with new ideas every now and then and I really appreciate those. That actually drove the API idea that we developed; the API feature so. 

Because we had some. We were getting hundreds of thousands of requests from certain IPs and we’re like, “What is going on? Is there like a click farm going on out in California? Like what is going on out here with those IP address?” And it was actually like making the service bad for other people because there so much activity. 

Trent: Yeah. 

Mark: So, we had to do something about that which we never had to do that before. But they we’re like, “Well, we want to get all this information.” I’m like, “Well, can I just build an API for you. So, then you can just get it?” and then they’re like, “Yeah, that’d be great.” 

And then like I brought that out to my customer list and they’re like, “Oh, sweet. Yeah, I want that too.” So, now we have a lot of other bigger companies; like brand reputation companies and those kind of people that monitor hundreds of… I don’t know about hundreds of thousands, but tens of thousands of Asens for their customers and now they can get stock quantity reports on those right into their program. So, it just feeds right. 

Trent: That’s a perfect example of the phrase that I like is, “The best way to succeed in business is to be in business.” Had you not ever started this thing, would you have ever in a million years known that there were companies who were willing to pay money to get daily reports on inventory levels of tens of thousands of skews on Amazon?

Mark: Right, no way. 

Trent: Like how would that ever get onto your radar screen as a thing? 

Mark: No way. 

Trent: Yeah.

Mark: It’s so niche. It’s so niche. We’re in a very, very small niche that solves a very very specific problem and it’s been awesome. It’s been a huge blessing for my family. 

Trent: Yeah, no question. So, these companies that we’re just talking about that are paying this; the power users, are they a meaningful slice of your gross revenue or are they just like two or three percent of gross revenue? 

Mark: Yeah, not yet. We’re still fortifying our API. 

Trent: Yeah. 

Mark: So, I haven’t really… I mean, I would still consider it still in beta. There’s a decent amount of users on it and I actually just in partnering with some other software companies that report stock limits, but they don’t have the Limit Buster capabilities. So, now we’re working together and they’re going to send me the Asen and merchant idea and then I’m going to be able to get them their information. 

Trent: Got it. Okay. So, suffice to say there has been all sorts of opportunities come your way that never would have even hit your radar screen had you not began your journey down this path. 

Mark: Exactly. Yeah. 

Trent: OK. 

Mark: Yeah. I mean, just real quick. Another problem, another itch that I was scratching was the Free Amazon Repricer. So, this is something else that I’m coming out with; it’s not even out yet, but I’m using it myself because I wanted it. So, I had a built and it’s been working awesome. 

So, I’m not paying 300 or $1500 a month for repricer anymore. I’m using Amazon’s free repricer and I’m able to reprice like 300 skews in five minutes. And it ties right into Amazon’s free repricer. It doesn’t actually reprice anything, it just prepares the minimax. 

So, it’s just another example of pretty much what I did with “How Many?” You know, scratching my own itch. 

Trent: Yeah, absolutely. And that’s how I created Flowster. I was scratching my own itch. 

Mark: That’s right. That’s awesome. 

Trent: And on that note, my computer sent me a little chime telling me that my next call is coming up. So, we will have to end our conversation here, Mark. So, thank you so much for making some time and coming to be on the show. It was a pleasure to have you here. 

For folks who are listening, if they want to get your… And we didn’t talk about this in the pre-interview, but if you could give me like a coupon code or something and I’ll put it up under or we’ll come up with the URL and I’ll put it in the show notes. 

So, if you want to give them something afterwards, that way anyone who is listening to this episode who wants to sign up, there will be a way for you in the show notes to do that. So, the show notes for this episode will be at brightideas.co/278

If you enjoyed this episode, I have two small but very important requests. Number one, help another entrepreneur discover all of the golden nuggets by sharing this episode on your social profiles or wherever else you would like to. 

And then number two, if you would take a moment and head on over to the iTunes Store and leave us a five star rating along with your comments, Man oh man, I would be eternally grateful for that. Thank you so much. 

Questions Asked During the Interview

  1. Who are you and what do you do?
  2. What are your company’s big success metrics?
  3. What were you doing just before you started your company?
  4. Where did the idea come from?
  5. What’s the first step you took to launch your business?
  6. What did the first version look like?
  7. Tell me about the systems you have for traffic generation (paid and organic)?
  8. Tell me about the systems you have for CRO?
  9. Big Milestones — Big Leaps and Big Drops?
  10. What was the biggest challenge and what did you learn?
  11. How Does Amazon fit into your strategy?
  12. What was the lowest point in your business and how did that affect you personally?
  13. What question did I not ask you that is important to address?

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Today’s Guest

Mark Crawford loves software and anytime he looks at building a new software product he asks himself 3 questions. Can it be an automated sale? Does it have recurring income and can it be operated from anywhere in the world? Mark has started several companies that help sellers with their product selection, product reviews and repricing. The most recent is a chrome extension and mobile app called How Many #?
Mark started selling on amazon over 5 years ago and many of his software products come from problems that he encounters on his selling journey.

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