Engineer to Entrepreneur with Greg Mercer of Jungle Scout

Greg Mercer Founder and CEO of Jungle Scout, he once was a civil engineer who decided to create his own business on Amazon and succeeded. He then went on to try and make the process easier helping thousands if not millions of people do the same. Can you quit your job and do Amazon FBA full-time? Read my blog!

In this episode you will learn:

  • The top mistakes people make when selling on Amazon
  • How you can use Jungle Scout to build your business beyond selling on Amazon
  • Greg’s story of going from engineer to full-time Amazon seller then creating his own business on top of it!
  • Learn how you can win $50,000 in a contest for entrepreneurs

Connect with Greg here:

Transcript

Show Intro:          Welcome to Thrive Radio. Expert visionary and innovative business, life, and relationship advice to live a life of doing the impossible. With your host, Aimee Montgomery.

Aimee:             This is episode number 37 with Jungle Scout. Welcome to Thrive Radio, I’m your host Aimee Montgomery. I’m an entrepreneur and business coach. And I’ve decided to bring on other successful entrepreneurs to share their story on how they are helping others to do the impossible.

Aimee:                    I have Greg Mercer here with me today. He is the founder and CEO of Jungle Scout. He once was a civil engineer who decided to create his own business on Amazon and he succeeded. He then went on to try and make the process easier for helping thousands, if not millions of people do the same.

Aimee:                    Welcome Greg.

Greg:                        Aimee, thank you very much for having me on. I’m excited to talk to you today.

Aimee:                    Yeah, I’m excited. The business you built helped me in my life and business and making money.

Greg:                        That’s fantastic.

Aimee:                    I know now … Yeah. So it’s exciting to interview you today. And so I want to actually ask you, because you started a business on Amazon. You were in the corporate world, civil engineer, and getting a steady paycheck. And they you were like, I’m an entrepreneur now. You were a little bit of an entrepreneur as a kid, as I’ve read. So tell me a little bit about your story and what made you the entrepreneur you are today?

Greg:                        Sure. So you know, I think my whole life I’ve had this kind of like entrepreneurial spirit that it just was always kind of interesting to me. And even as a young kid, I was always interested in selling stuff to make money. I think when it was time for me to go to college, I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do with my life, like a lot of people.

Greg:                        I’ve always enjoyed creating things and building things. So my parents were like, “Why don’t you become an engineer?” I was like, “Okay. Like I don’t have a better idea, sure.” So I went through college, I graduated as a civil engineer, got a job in the corporate world working that.

Greg:                        And I very quickly found that it just wasn’t really for me. I wasn’t fulfilled, I dreaded going into work. So most of my days, I would try to kind of get my work done quickly and then spend the rest of the day just like figuring out how I could start my own business or do my own thing, because I just wanted out of there.

Aimee:                    Yeah.

Greg:                        I tried a number of different things. I made a few dollars here and there, doing just different little businesses, mostly online. And then the first one that really kind of like took off for me was selling physical products on Amazon. So when I got started, I was doing the arbitrage thing, just to kind of test it out.

Greg:                        And then I realized that that wasn’t real scalable. Soon thereafter, I learned a little bit about importing goods from China. At the time, private labeling on Amazon wasn’t really like the thing it is today. So these people that I learned from were actually importing stuff to sell on eBay. So I kind of learned a little bit about that.

Greg:                        Yeah, and then shortly thereafter, I was able to replace my engineering income, just with the money I was making on Amazon. So that’s when I quit my job, convinced my wife to also quit her job. We sold all of our stuff, starting traveling around the world, just working fully remotely. And yeah, kind of the rest is history. That was the start of it for me.

Aimee:                    That’s really incredible. I remember reading your story at first, and I was like, “Man, this is crazy.” It made me excited that, you know … Because, I was at a place in my life where I needed to make more money. And last year I was able, just through Amazon, to pay $50,000 dollars off in debt.

Greg:                        That’s awesome.

Aimee:                    Yeah, so it’s definitely a life changing thing. So in your journey, what are you grateful for so far?

Greg:                        Oh man, I’m grateful for a lot. You know I … Really, I feel like when I quit my job as an engineer, that’s was like a huge turning point in my life. Prior to that, I never would’ve guessed in a million years that my life would’ve kind of like turned into what it has. So I’m really just grateful for that whole journey. It’s been a really amazing learning experience, it’s been fruitful.

Greg:                        I’m definitely more happy and just wake up kind of more energized and excited to just work on my business every day. So really just like grateful that I kind of like took the plunge into entrepreneurship and was able to make it work and just kind of how that’s changed my life.

Aimee:                    We never end, it seems as entrepreneurs, you never end up where you started out. Like everything you [crosstalk 00:04:31]

Greg:                        No.

Aimee:                    So how did you come up with the idea for Jungle Scout? And how did you build that? Does that come from the civil engineer in you or?

Greg:                        Good question. So you know, modern day Amazon environment, a lot of people have found this hard to believe. But at the time when I started selling on Amazon, there was no way to know how well products on Amazon were selling. Like Jungle Scout hadn’t been invented yet, none of the Jungle Scout copycats or any of those, so no one knew how well products were selling on Amazon.

Greg:                        So what I found was I was launching these new products on Amazon. Some were doing well, some weren’t. And the reason behind that was just that some of the products had a lot of demand on Amazon and some of them didn’t. But I just didn’t know that at the time, because there was no way to figure out how well products on Amazon were selling.

Greg:                        So I actually developed some algorithms. So this is like a little bit of my engineering background, you know a very data driven type person. So I developed some algorithms to estimate how well products were selling on Amazon, based on the best-seller rank. I was using these in my own business. At the time, I just had like a spreadsheet, and I would come up with a product idea, and I’d fill out this whole spreadsheet, and I’d run these different algorithms on the different best-sellers ranks, to get like a …

Greg:                        At the time, they weren’t very accurate, but they at least gave me like a ball park of how well these products were selling. And it was still pretty time consuming to fill out these spreadsheets. So I was like, “Man, it’d be so cool if there was just like a software tool that just automated filling out these spreadsheets.” And that ultimately is how the Jungle Scout extension was born.

Greg:                        Even today, if you look at the Jungle Scout extension, it still kind of looks like a spreadsheet right? Like there’s columns and there’s rows of data. That was like my original spreadsheet. So that’s how it was born. I still don’t know how to write code, but I hired a developer to build this for me. And at the time, I was like, “You know what, I doubt anyone will actually buy this thing. But hey, worst case scenario, if no one else buys it, like I want this for my own business, so it’s not that big of a deal.”

Greg:                        But yeah, I went into it thinking like, Man, I doubt I’ll be able to sell this thing to anyone, but whatever, that’s fine. And then, transform all the way to today, over 200,000 people have bought it and yeah, so it turns out there actually was a demand for it.

Aimee:                    Yeah, I mean you know, the people that i have coached in private label, when I take them through that process, I always use Jungle Scout and going through the data and saying, “Look, you know …” because the data’s your security of you know …

Greg:                        Definitely.

Aimee:                    I mean, obviously you still have to do your product launch. You still have to do all these other things as well, even to beat the competition now, because it’s a little bit more. But if you don’t listen to the data and you think that you’re smarter than it, you know like I’ve have-

Greg:                        It’s pretty risky right?

Aimee:                    You know, and I’ve had people say things like, “Well, the data says it would sell, but I would go to Walmart.” And it’s like, “Well, millions of people are buying it and the data says [crosstalk 00:07:30]

Greg:                        Right.

Aimee:                    I really want to sell this cool, awesome thing, but you know, you look at the data and it says, “Well, there’s no market share left.”

Greg:                        I think that was my biggest takeaway after, especially after really starting to perfect Jungle Scout and getting the estimates really accurate. My biggest takeaway was, us, like as humans, are terrible at guessing what sells well on Amazon. Like some things will really surprise you, Like holy smokes, I can’t believe 20,000 of these are sold every month.

Greg:                        And other things that you would think would sell well or you would think that other people like, it’s like, yeah, nobody buys on Amazon. So yeah, that was one of my biggest takeaways, that we’re terrible at guessing how well products sell on Amazon.

Aimee:                    It’s so true. What are some of the top mistakes people make when starting a business on Amazon?

Greg:                        You know, I think actually you just named probably two of the top mistakes that people make. They assume that because they were looking for something on Amazon or their friend or their mom or whoever else was looking on Amazon for something and couldn’t find it. They just assume that, that would be a really good opportunity. And usually it’s not, and it’s a very, very risky thing to do.

Greg:                        So you know, like I only sell products on Amazon that already have existing demand on Amazon. Because the Amazon platform is very poor for educating the public about new products that they don’t know about. Like 99% of purchases on Amazon start with a search. Someone’s going to Amazon, they’re typing into the search bar what they’re looking for. And then they go there and find it.

Greg:                        So like just because of that, like discovering new products is very difficult for people to do on Amazon. So it’s not like you have the end cap at a Walmart store or something like that where people walk by and get interested in them. So that’s one of the big things, that people try to sell goods on Amazon that no one’s searching for and no one’s buying.

Aimee:                    Let’s talk about off of Amazon. What are some ways that people can use Jungle Scout if they’re opening up a Shopify store or one of the other platforms that are out there?

Greg:                        Yeah. You know, I was just at a conference called Prosper Show like a month ago and one of my favorite things about conferences is getting to speak to all of our customers. They come up to our booth, they’re really excited. Like, “Oh, I love Jungle Scout, I wanna tell you about it.” And one of my biggest takeaways from that show is like wow, there’s so many ways that people are using Jungle Scout for like reasons that really it wasn’t built for. Like I didn’t even know a lot of these.

Greg:                        So everything from, this guy came up to me, and he works for a magazine that’s now primarily online. And his whole team uses Jungle Scout to figure out which … So they make a lot of their revenue through affiliate sales, using the Amazon Affiliate Program. And his team uses Jungle Scout to see which products sell the most, so that they can write about those particular products inside of like their magazine.

Aimee:                    That’s really cool.

Greg:                        Yeah. There’s another guy who came up and he is a consultant for different physical products companies, but all of them are pretty much off Amazon. And he uses it to download all his data to run these competitive analysis and he had all these really interesting kind of like charts and data that he gathered for it.

Greg:                        But since Amazon makes up more than half of online sales, it’s just like … You know, even if you’re not selling on Amazon, it’s still a great place to go to understand what people are purchasing, what’s popular, what’s … Like seasonality. All those different types of things.

Greg:                        The numbers that you learn from Amazon are great gages for anywhere else you want to sell those products. Even if it’s in a brick and mortar store. Yeah, those are a few of the ways that people are using it besides just kind of finding profitable products.

Aimee:                    So you also offer a chance for entrepreneurs to win $50,000 and it’s called The 5 Minute Pitch. Is this similar to Shark Tank?

Greg:                        Yeah, it’s very similar to Shark Tank. You know, I always wanted to be a shark, they haven’t invited me on the show yet. So I figured I would create my own. So this is a content series that some friends and I did together. And that’s exactly right, it’s like a mini Shark Tank. So it’s a pitch competition we started with 32 entrepreneurs pitching their small business, all different types of businesses. Not just like Amazon businesses. Everything from e-com to affiliate sites, to a whole bunch of different stuff, software. There’s all kinds of different businesses.

Greg:                        So we … It’s actually, the final round is next week. So right now, we’ve gotten it down to the final four, and they’re actually pitching live next week at another conference. And one of them will walk away with the $50,000 prize. So yeah, it’s really cool. If that sounds interesting to you guys, if you would like to be eligible for the 50K, we’re taking applications for season two right now. So you can go to 5minutepitch.com and check it out.

Aimee:                    That’s really cool. I love the shark … I love Shark Tank and-

Greg:                        Yeah. Me too.

Aimee:                    And the stuff that they come up with is just, you know, it’s brilliant. And then yeah, I totally get into it. So that’s really exciting. So what is your truth that you’ve held fast to through this whole … Because I mean, you’ve gone through this major entrepreneurial journey.

Greg:                        Mm-hmm (affirmative),

Aimee:                    And you continue to go into new things. What’s one truth that you’ve held throughout?

Greg:                        Oh man, that’s a really good question. I think one thing that … You know, I’d say there’s one truth that I’ve held, and I’ve tried to be like really, really mindful of this. Is … I’m trying to think of a good way to, or how I can kind of like explain this. But it’s essentially like always giving the customer like way more than they expect or like way more than they’re asking for or just be like overly generous with all of it.

Greg:                        I think that’s like what’s led to a lot of Jungle Scout’s success. Is because we give out all these free tools and free education. And just really try to go to like above and beyond like, hey, even if you never purchase anything from Jungle Scout. Like our goal is always for you to just think like, wow, I love Jungle Scout so much. It’s like the greatest company in the world, and I’ve never even boughten anything from it yet. Like that’s what we always want people to think.

Greg:                        And I think it can be difficult at times to do, especially like when you’re a growing company. You know, it feels like every month I have one of my executives coming up like, “Hey, we need to start charging for this. Like hey, we need to start charging for that. Or like, hey we shouldn’t be giving that away for free.” Or whatever else. They’re always looking for other ways to kind of like monetize and stuff.

Greg:                        And it’s like, No, that’s not how we got to where we’re at. We need to be just be like overly generous with all this stuff. Maybe some of this doesn’t make like great business sense in the short-term, but I’m really confident that if we continue to hold this truth that like long-term this is always the best option.

Aimee:                    Yeah. That’s really good because you realize that it’s more about building relationships than it is just getting someone to buy something.

Greg:                        Right.

Aimee:                    Yeah.

Greg:                        Love it.

Aimee:                    What’s your superpower?

Greg:                        Hmm, my superpower. I think my … You know, it’s hard to identify you’re own superpower. But just a few months ago we were talking about this, with my wife and some of my friends. And the one my wife came up with for me, was that … So she described me like a puppy and let me give the analogy here that I kind of like never get discouraged. And if I ever get really stressed out about anything or like something really bad happens, they’re like always at least by just by falling asleep, they’re like I wake up the next morning, and I’ve kind of like forgotten about that bad thing.

Greg:                        And the reason I say that’s a superpower is because, especially like in entrepreneurship, you though a lot of really hard, just like hard days and there’s a lot of stress. You’re going to hit tons of speed bumps, like everyone does and everyone’s going to feel like the biggest problem you’ve ever had. I think a lot of entrepreneurs end up quitting or never get to where they wanted or whatever else because they let the stuff like really discourage them a lot.

Greg:                        So I’d say like my superpower is just never getting discouraged, like always being optimistic about it. Even like life’s hardest problems, I’m like, “Oh yeah, we can figure that out. Like, no problem guys, we’ll get through this.” So I think that’s kind of like led to … Or because of that is a big reason that I’m where I’m at today.

Aimee:                    Yeah. Wow, I wish I had that superpower. I’m an optimist but yeah, I’ll get really discouraged. I’ll be like, “Oh man, it’s not working.” You know, and then I want everything. Yeah, but it does take, you have to stick in there. I did want to ask you as well, if you were to give yourself one piece of advice when you first started out, looking back, what would it be?

Greg:                        One of my biggest regrets is just like not starting all of it sooner. You know, I think we always come up with excuses for ourselves, why now’s not the right time or why I shouldn’t get started. Or scared about this or that or whatever else. So my one piece of advice, which would’ve been just like start all this earlier, like don’t be afraid of it. Just like, little wins and little successes here and there is kind of what gives you the confidence to get to the next level. So, that’s the biggest piece of advice I would give myself.

Aimee:                    Yeah, and it’s so easy to get caught in your mind and trying to learn everything before you take the first step.

Greg:                        Absolutely.

Aimee:                    The best way to learn is just to go and step out. Right?

Greg:                        Totally. You learn so much more just trying to do it yourself.

Aimee:                    So true. So I do want to mention for those who are listening. If you want to check out Jungle Scout, the website is junglescout.com and again, for the chance to win $50,000, if you have an amazing idea, you can go to 5minutepitch.com. I will put those on my website.

Aimee:                    I do want to mention too, that you also have Jungle Market and Jump Send. And for those that don’t know about those two things, Jump Send, if you want to talk a little bit about it, but it basically will help you get reviews on Amazon. And Jungle Market is just a community of people that are helping each other out on Amazon. Do you want to share a little bit about that?

Greg:                        Yeah, I think that’s pretty accurate. You know, Jump Send has like email automations, it also is a deal site. Both of those things help you launch products, as well as to help you get reviews. That’s great. And yeah, the Jungle Scout Market, we … You know, it was like everyday I felt like we got 50 emails, like, Hey, who you do recommend to do this? Who do you recommend to do that? I’m looking for someone to do this.

Greg:                        We’re like, Man, we just need like at least a directory of all these people. And then we’re like, Well, you know what. Why don’t we take it one step further and create this pre-vetted Amazon freelancer marketplace. So that … We pre-vet these people before they get in there, so we know that they’re good.

Greg:                        And then they can advertise their different services through our marketplace and this is where Amazon sellers can go if they need someone to help them with their Amazon business. Whether that’s product research or creating a listing or doing their photography or registering a trademark. Or there’s all these little things that Amazon sellers often times need help with and they don’t quite know who to go to, to get those. So yeah, that’s how the Jungle Scout Market was born.

Aimee:                    Greg, thank you so much for coming on today and sharing your journey.

Greg:                        Thank you for having me.

Aimee:                    Yeah, the time’s gone by so fast. Again, if you’re listening, you can visit junglescout.com for more information. And if you want more information on A Call To Thrive. You can go to acalltothrive.com.

Aimee:                    Thank you everyone and have a wonderful week.

Scroll to Top