Andrew: Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy, where I interview entrepreneurs about how they built their businesses for an audience of entrepreneurs. Like today’s guest, who has been listening, who actually said Andrew, when COVID started becoming a thing, I’d be happy to come and do an interview with you.
And I was a little too slow because my whole schedule is out of whack. We finally get him on to do the interview. I say, how do I, how do I make this a win for you? He says, well, Andrew, I reached out to you because I wanted to tell other people what COVID was was about, because we were feeling adhere to just send the message that this is something different.
You’re not prepared. Has it all. We’re definitely too late for that. Brian Miller. I appreciate that. You were willing to do that. I actually wanted to have you on here because I’m fricking fascinated by China in general. I, I see the future in China. I see the opportunity. I see that it’s on the rise. I want to learn more about what’s going on there.
I want to see a business that’s growing there. I want to understand how you as someone from what, where did you grow up?
Andrew: Connecticut Howard, how you’re finding life in China and how you’re building your business. His business for everyone who’s listening is easy. China warehouse. It’s a global fulfillment warehouse for e-commerce sellers.
You know how a lot of the stuff that we buy comes from factories in China. Well, a lot of those factories will send that product over to Brian’s company. For him to send out two warehouses around the world to be shipped to us, or sometimes they just ship directly to us depending on where we buy. And so I invited him here to talk about how he built up his business, if, and China’s like, and then just talk and we can do that.
Thanks to two phenomenal sponsors. The first, if you don’t understand how your customers are feeling, how your audience is feeling right now, you could potentially lose your customers. We’re not in a point where you can take your audience, take your customers for granted. I keep serving my people, right.
Delighted is a great way for you to do it. And I’m gonna tell you later why you should be going to delighted to get their software, to help you get a feel of where your audience is. And number two, it’s a company called HostGator. If you haven’t started a business going to wholescale already, they’ll help you get started.
Brian. Good to have you here.
Brian: Thanks for having me on the show.
Andrew: What are some of the products that you ship out around the world? What have you seen? Especially interesting.
Brian: Well, obviously recently we’ve seen a lot of, personal production equipment that has gone out,
Andrew: Like what?
like masks gowns for hospital workers, at those face shields, we see a lot of them,
Andrew: I see a lot of those too, though. The clear plastic things that cover your whole face, forehead to chin. Yeah. Do people wear shoes? Do people wear face masks in China?
Brian: We’re wearing masks now. Yeah. I mean, even after the virus is pretty well contained here, people still wear masks out in public, in the Metro on buses. so it’s relatively common for most people to, to wear one.
Andrew: is it required?
Brian: It’s required in the Metro and in a public place, like, building a government building, not at work, but it used to be a law in China.
Once the virus was becoming very serious in China, like in February, they actually made it a law that if you leave your house, you have to wear a mask and that they could refuse entry to you into like a supermarket or wherever. If you didn’t wear one.
Andrew: Do people comply here? I see a lot of people don’t comply with it. California has got a rule about wearing masks. People don’t do it. People argue about it
Brian: Yeah, absolutely. Like the one thing that I was super impressed with China is that in the beginning in January, we kind of just started hearing about it. And in terms of that, it was spreading within China. And I’d say within the first week of January, when it started. about half the population was wearing a mask.
And by the second week, so mid January, almost everyone was wearing a mask because the government recommended it. They didn’t even require that at that time. And at the end of January, they made it a law that you had to wear it. And people have continued to do that until today.
Andrew: Do they tend to be compliant with government rules?
Brian: Yeah. So I think a lot of people will maybe hit back at me for this because they’ll say, well, they’re an authoritarian government. They have to, but in terms of. people listening to the government to advise and do the greater good for society. We definitely see people kind of thinking about society as a whole.
And that’s why I think they like to wear the masks. That’s why a lot of people would even self quarantine when they came from kind of a hotspot to a new city within China, just to protect the rest of society because has kind of, Like that in terms of that, they care more about the greater good, rather than it’s less individualist, you could say
Andrew: Basically where I grew up, I was from New York. I feel like we don’t do well, listening to authority, we were trained not to. I realize I’m also training my kids not to listen to authority a lot of times. How is it for you to be an environment where you’ve got to listen?
Brian: Yeah. Like, I think I’ve become used to it. I agree with you. Like when the virus was spreading, I always tell, I told all my friends, like, at least in the U S we, we care about our freedom too much, that we want to do whatever we want to do. Right. And, I think at least in, in China, you know, even though maybe the government doesn’t always make the right decision in general, I would say they really make decisions for.
Most of the greater good within society. And once you see that, I think you can start accepting the fact that, you know, you’re not always going to have the choice and that you can follow along with that because it’s helping most people out. And so I, that’s what I see from at least living in China. And I think I’m kind of okay with it.
And in terms of the virus, the fact that everyone wore it, now we can go out without any fear of. You know, contracting anything.
Andrew: Do you go
Brian: gym, restaurants, bars, movie theaters just opened. And at least in Shenzhen, there’s been no cases for about two months. So it’s, I feel like all the work was worth it for everyone.
Andrew: I’m appreciative that you’re doing this interview so early in the day. What time is it? When, what time was it? When we connected
Brian: 6:30 AM.
Andrew: 6:30 AM. What are the hours that people keep in Shenzhen
Brian: in terms of work. Yeah.
Usually most people come to the office. Well, Chinese usually start a little bit later, but they like to work later as well. So people will come to the office between eight and 10:00 AM, but we see a lot of people specifically in Shenzhen because it’s a tech hub for China and the world that people will work really late until eight, nine.
10:00 PM at night. And I think that also relates to all of the exporting that China’s done over the years. So they’ve always had to have long hours in order to connect with like North American customers or European customers in different time zones. So it’s relatively regular for most people to be working at least in Shen gen young people at big tech companies, you know, 10 to 12 to 14 hours a day.
Andrew: And how did they feel about it? Frustrated, angry, eager.
Brian: I think they, they know that that’s part of the deal if they want those type of opportunities. And the thing about China is it has such a huge population that there’s an incredible amount of competition in terms of the market. Whether it be employment market, whether it be the yeah. Actual, you know, business first business.
And so they know that if they don’t perform their best, that there’s another guy right below them that will run place them. And I think that’s what fuels a lot of this, acceptance, too, do these long hours to work this hard because they know that there there’s such a large pool of people that are.
Dying for that seat that they’re willing to work much harder than the person below them.
Andrew: I feel like that was true in New York, in the eighties and in, the wall street era, you know, where there was a sense of hunger and people are proud that they were working late, proud that they beat out the guy who’s waiting for their job, you know, that type of thing. and does it create a toxic environment for you it’s for other people where you feel like you’re constantly being worked and you don’t get time for yourself?
Brian: I think in terms of maybe people’s health. Yes. But I think in terms of the common goal of like the country, like people actually believe that and rightly so that, you know, China’s becoming one of the largest powers in the world and they’re
Andrew: If not the largest,
the most powerful con it’s right. It’s on the verge of doing it and people are, how do people feel about that? Yeah.
Brian: Well in China, they’re excited about it.
And so I feel like they don’t mind doing it cause they also feel like they themselves and their country is like on the upswing and they want to participate in that kind of miracle that that’s happening in China. And I think the optimism and the hard work is kind of also a pride thing. Like they’re very proud of what they’ve accomplished and they should be right.
They’ve done something incredible. And they want to keep that going. And they do, you know, they want to be number one in the world, whether it be the government or the people. And they believe that they believe that they’re going to be it. And I, you know, I think they might. And so with that kind of energy and passion, I feel like they don’t mind as much putting in those long hours cause they can see the fruits of their labor, you know?
Andrew: I feel like that’s the way we felt in the U S
Brian: I always tell people that yeah,
Andrew: Growing up, people used to feel that way. And then it became this sense of, well, I’m not going to do as well as my parents or people are telling me that we’re not going to do well for this reason or that. And a lot of that optimism, a lot of that excitement, a lot of that sense that we’re on the rise is
Brian: Yeah. Yeah. I always, I always compare it to like, like a sports team that always keeps winning. Right. They kind of like get complacent and they, you see a little stumble in them. Maybe they like have a bad game and then they have another bad game. And then they kind of like, they’re so complacent that they, they fall, they fall down, you know what I mean?
I don’t, and I kind of compare it. Can compare that to the U S in terms of, I see a lot of complacency in terms of my friends being too complacent in, in that and where they are. Right. And they don’t have the hunger anymore. And I see the hunger in China for sure. And that’s what excites me about living here.
Andrew: And you feel that from other people, do you express that? Do you feel hungry? Do you feel like, easy China warehouses on the rise is going to be huge. Do you feel it every day
do you think it’s going to be.
Brian: I want to become, the platform for an eCommerce fulfillment in between the factory and Amazon. So Amazon doesn’t serve that part of the market actually. And I think there’s a massive opportunity in between when the factory is made to, when it gets to Amazon, that we can fill that.
Void in the market.
Andrew: How’d you know, this was an issue.
Brian: well, the, the, the main thing was I figured it out because I had started an eCommerce company before this. So I still own a company that sells Bluetooth speakers. you know, as Amazon sellers were very secret about what, what we
the reason is, is that it’s easy when you see someone successful and someone, kind of have a niche and Amazon people don’t want others to know. And the reason is it’s easy for other sellers to come in and replicate it. And so people, especially in the Amazon market, they hate telling what they sell or what their,
Andrew: Wow. All right. Tell me in the chat. I’m not going to get into the space. You can trust me here. Do you know where the chat is on zoom? I got to look it up. All right. I’m going to go. Nobody knows where the chat is on zoom. Zoom needs to make it easier for people to chat over to you. Okay. So this, site is something you started when I, I wonder I didn’t see it on your LinkedIn Okay. All right. I see. I see what you’re saying and I’m not going to reveal what type of thing you’re doing, but I get it. This is really interesting
Brian: Yeah, we do Bluetooth speakers basically.
Andrew: on it.
okay, so you started doing this. How, how did you get into selling Bluetooth speakers?
Brian: Well, I had a friend that, was the SEO manager of Airbnb at the time, my college roommate. And he was like, did you hear about this Amazon thing? we can kind of sell stuff online. I’ll do the SEO and you can go find the products and for our product at the time we had, kind of seen it, but we wanted to make it better.
Basically. We wanted a product for ourselves, so we built it. For what we wanted.
Andrew: I mean the kind of speakers that you wanted to carry.
Brian: exactly. This is what we wanted to carry because we thought it was cool. And so yeah, on the weekends, I went around China and looked for a factory that can make this. And every weekend I would actually come down to Shenzhen, where I live now and I would meet with, speaker factories and we eventually found a factory that matched and we had them make 10 speakers.
That’s how we started with like a thousand dollars and 10 speakers. And we shipped them into Amazon and. In like a week or two, we sold them all. We were like, wow, this is pretty, this is easier than we thought, you know?
we bought a hundred and then we shipped a hundred and a
Andrew: And they made them to your specifications and you knew how to speak Chinese because you went to Beijing, normal university.
Brian: Yeah. So that was after I graduated university, but I studied Mandarin for two years, so I can read and write and speak fluent Chinese. So I was able to work directly with the factory and tell them what we needed and develop this product that we thought we wanted.
And we thought other people wanted.
Right. And so that’s how we launched that company. And I still own this company today. And, from doing e-commerce and from selling online, I saw just a massive hassle and pain and taking those products from the factory and bringing it into Amazon because a lot of sellers use Amazon to fulfill all of their orders.
The process that we went through is we, we found like a traditional freight forwarder and they would take our products and put it into a container and then they would ship it over to the U S where they would need to bring it since we weren’t big enough, they would have to take all of the people that were in that container.
So there was maybe five or 10 companies products in that container. They would have to con de consolidate them at a warehouse in the U S and then we would have to manage the shipment from that warehouse all around the U S to Amazon warehouses. And it was expensive. It was time consuming. It was a lot paperwork that I felt was unnecessary and.
It was complicated. And so I thought that there was probably a better one way to manage these shipments than to do it that way. It just seemed insane.
So. No, this was, this was after I’d been working for some time. So I was working for the Chinese government. and at the last two years of working for them, we kind of started this concept of the commerce company.
And then when I felt like we could actually, you know, it was working, I left that company and working on it full time.
Andrew: I see it. Now, this is 2017 is when you created this, this business, the eCommerce business.
Brian: A little earlier because I was already working at that previous company. So I didn’t,
Andrew: He didn’t want them to know
They are, they are, they absolutely are like, everyone’s doing a side hustle in China actually, but you kind of try not to tell your boss about it. Like everyone’s got a little gig on the side.
but you don’t want to like, let them know.
Andrew: Okay. All right. I should talk about my first sponsor. You know, I started focusing on entrepreneurs who are doing especially well after COVID Brian. And one of the things that I noticed was there was this sense of hesitation. Even though they were being interviewed because their company was doing better than last year.
There was hesitation. When I asked them about it, what I noticed was they were worried that it was going to go away. They recognize that customers right now are going through bad economic times and they’re likely to make big switches, but we don’t know when that’s where delighted comes in. They’ve got a beautiful website called delighted.com and what they’re, what they Excel at is.
Asking questions of your customers that help you understand where they are. And you could do this on their website, through, on your website, through inserts, through buttons, to widgets. If you do it via email, after sale presale, whatever. And they’re really good about making a beautiful, what’s more important than that is.
They’re also great at taking the data that you get back and making it actionable, usable. So you know what to do well, here’s the thing that they taught me when I talked to them at delighted, they said in the past you could just throw up an NP. P S score net promoter score. How likely are you scale of one to 10 to tell your friends about us?
How likely are you to recommend us? post COVID. That is not very, it’s not as useful as it was before because sometimes people just aren’t bad moods, sometimes something bad just happened. And to ask them that kind of question is going to give you data. That’s not as usable as it was before. It’s more reflective of how they’re feeling and how you’re doing in their world.
And so one of the things that delighted recommended based on their experiences, Ask people more open ended questions now. And so if you’re asking how likely are you to recommend make sure to have a good followup question or maybe even start off with a followup question or you ask, how are you doing today?
How is your world maybe even ask if there’s something big in the news, ask how they’re handling it. And they’ve got the widgets that will let you make this happen. Really easy. And then the follow up question. If you’ve got a simple yes or no, thumbs up thumbs down or a number, and they’re really good at doing that.
The follow up question is one that’s more open ended that can get you some qualitative data on the customer to know whether you’re going to keep them or not to know whether you should follow up with them or not. And if this all seems overwhelming, you should understand. They make it super easy to finally use that data.
In fact, I told them I could create all this that you’re doing using a simple form maker. Why do I need, why do I need to light it? I said, do you ever use anything that you get back? Do you ever use that feedback? I said, no. They said that’s the problem. That’s what we’re really solving the questions. Have the nice interface for it.
So it’s delighted. That’s the company they’d been sponsors before. I’m so glad that they’re coming back. It means that it’s done well for them. People are signing up and right now Ari’s about our, he’s our editor. She’s about to put a URL, right? We’re here to give people a deal that will allow them to go and sign up and get started with delighted.
Brian: Yeah, that’s a good question. So after I graduated in 2008, which was the other kind of crisis we had not only were there not really many opportunities available, but I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. And so I actually left the U S to travel around the world. I spent time in Europe. I taught some English there to kind of survive.
I spent over a year there and then I went to the middle East and then from the middle East, I went through India, which was incredible. and then, India, I was like, what should I do? And I had a friend in Taiwan and he said, come out to Taiwan. Asia is super hot now. In terms of the economy and what’s happening.
Culture’s incredible. You got to come out and see it, just come here and you’ll love it. And that’s what happened. I came to Taiwan, I slept on his couch and, I started to just love Taiwan. It was incredible and they speak Mandarin as well. And at that time I saw China as kind of, they were much smaller at the time, but they were the rising power and they were the rising economy, whether it be in Asia and the world.
And I said to myself, wow, this culture is amazing. I should start learning Mandarin and eventually move to mainland China too. Do business there or find some opportunity. And that’s kind of how I started to go to China and
Andrew: too personal for me to ask you if you started dating in China.
Brian: Absolutely. I mean, that’s fine. I actually, one of the reasons I started studying Mandarin is cause I was like, there’s like 95% of the women. I can’t talk to, like, this is a problem, you know? Like how do I talk to more of them? They’re all beautiful. What do I gotta do? Well, I got, I got to learn the language, you know what I mean?
And yeah, it was business, but it was also personal. I wanted to like get into. The culture I wanted to like date there. I wanted to like, have a life there that was normal. So, Oh my God. Dating and China, very difficult.
Andrew: I figure, you know what? I feel like the U S makes it super easy. I went to Argentina. You suddenly realize it’s a Catholic world. It’s not as easy as it is here. It’s a lot of hiding. And a lot of people who live with their parents, we have to find a way, thankfully, I was, I just got married, so it wasn’t an issue for me, but it was shocking to hear the stories that people came back with.
Brian: Yeah. I mean, at least in China, like when younger women are not so worried about getting married, but specifically when they get into their mid twenties, there’s a lot of pressure from their parents and their families to like hurry up and get married. And so. You have women that you would meet that they would basically ask you, Hey, are you like almost directly, are you interested in getting married?
And if you said no, they would say, okay. Don’t like, don’t waste my time. Like, I don’t even want to date. I don’t even want to see you because that’s that’s yeah. That’s not my goal. I’m on a different mission, you know? So, so they’re like, Whereas maybe in the U S like we, we date longer and we think, okay, well, when we find the one that matches, like, then we’ll get more serious.
Right. But they want to get serious right away. Like they want to like, get. Down to make sure that their other side is on the same page as them. And that’s, that’s a huge thing. And then just culturally, like, the norms of, of how you date and how the family interacts with you is all different. So
yeah, it’s just a different world.
No, usually later on, but once you meet the family, it usually means that it doesn’t mean a hundred percent, but it means that you’re like on the track to marriage,
Andrew: That means same thing here now. Well, no, maybe not. You’re right.
Brian: don’t know exactly. Like you would probably go to family events. I mean, we all know that we have like that uncle that like brings a new girlfriend every Christmas.
Right. So there’s always like, and it’s not that serious, but, but in China it’s very serious. Yeah,
I am. Yeah. Actually, which is not normal actually. It’s yeah. It’s
Andrew: right. I got a, I got a good friend. He’s single during COVID. It was great at first, better than me, because I had kids in the house. I was going nuts and then he started getting really lonely. Just can’t go out and meet anyone.
Brian: If you’ve got to think as well though, that like covert is probably forcing both sides, men and women, to really be open to online dating now. Right. I guess, even more than before, but, but yeah, in terms of COVID in the, in the U S in China, like things are pretty normal. So like, life is relatively normal in terms of going out to restaurants, going out to eat, dating, going to the
back back to pretty much normal. Yeah.
Andrew: at what point did you say? You know what? The shipping is a big enough problem. I’m going to get into it.
Brian: Yeah. So, this is, this is kind of a, an interesting story because I had, started doing some consulting for, like I wanted to diversify away from my, speaker business in terms of just having another source of revenue. Cause I didn’t know if it was sustainable forever. And so I started working for companies and doing kind of their sourcing and logistics within China, other eCommerce companies.
And I had one company that really. Liked my work. And they told me, Hey, like, can you help us set up a small fulfillment center for us in China? And I said, yeah, that sounds good because I see the problem. You’re seeing the problem and I’ll help you set it up. And I took a small deposit and I started a company in China, like registered a company under my name.
And hired some employees and started building out a small little warehouse in Shen where I would ship the goods for them. And about two or three weeks before, you know, we were about to launch the owner of that business, sent me a text message and they said, well, we’re not going to go through with the. The fulfillment center. So I had like a company, I had employees, I had like a warehouse in China and I had no customers zero.
And so yeah, at that point it was like, Whoa. I had spent a few months on it and I knew I needed it. But I didn’t have enough volume myself to justify an entire warehouse. Right.
And so I had been very connected in the commerce kind of communities from just being an eCommerce seller. And I reached out to everyone. I could. To see if they were interested in me helping them solve this problem for them. And I had one person come back. That was a pretty big seller and agree to try.
And that’s how we started. He saved my business.
yeah, it’s a guy that street that runs Dave Hoss. He runs, an eCommerce store that sells, yarn and, quilting quilting Yeah.
Andrew: Pretty well known person, right?
Brian: he’s well known. Yeah. He’s, he’s well known in eCommerce and in Facebook marketing, like Facebook ads and things like that.
Yeah. And so he, you know, whether I told him or not, he was one of the guys that, saved, saved the business and, and, and then from there we were able to acquire more customers and build it up to what it is today. So we were on the brink of having to shut it down. I thought I was just gonna like
Andrew: And what did he need? He needed you to hold onto his yarn from the factories and then ship it to individual customers.
Brian: Correct? Yeah. At the, everywhere around the world. So we started, essentially what people here as drop shipping, we would take their product right from the Chinese factory end customer directly from China,
Andrew: shipping from the factory
Brian: from our warehouse. So we would have,
yeah, it’s it’s yeah. It’s not really drop shipping, but people.
Hmm. It’s easy for people to understand what we’re doing when I describe it as drop shipping, but it’s like direct from China fulfillment from our warehouse,
Andrew: he bought it from the warehouse. He bought it from the factory. He kept it in your warehouse and you just would ship it to anywhere around the world. And I asked you before we got started, why wouldn’t somebody just send it directly to Amazon? Or why wouldn’t they have a,
a three PL what’s three PL stand for. That’s what you do. Why wouldn’t someone have a three PL here in the U S to do it. And you said, well, that’s fine for the U S what about the rest of the world? Especially smaller countries. You don’t want to have a three PL agreement and
Brian: Yeah. And it’s also easier to manage like your cashflow, so you don’t need to order as much inventory from the warehouse. So you can be a little bit more lean in terms of how much you order and for a lot of the people that do run their own. Sites, they drive a lot of their traffic through Facebook. So some of the ads might hit really well in terms of their success.
And they might have an incredible explosion in orders and being close to the factory allows us to keep up with that demand as it. Comes, you know what I mean? Because those ads are either very successful or they’re not, and they can run for like a month and they’re like, it’s like, you know, the craziest amount of sales that you’ve ever seen and then they drop off to zero after.
Andrew: And then he has to call up. He has to call it the factory, tell him this, we need more of this type of yarn because the ads worked and then all you have to do is just be prepared to take it. And the factory can spin up yarn at that speed for him.
Brian: Yeah. And then they would spin it up for us. They would send it to our warehouse and we just ship it right out. He would actually sell a lot of things that he didn’t have in stock. So he would always sell when he was out of stock, he’d sell like thousands of items and I’d have to sell him an email and I’d say, Hey man, like we have no inventory, but you’re selling like a hundred a day.
Can you send us? Okay. And he didn’t have any of it. He was just selling it, selling it, selling it, but he wouldn’t have a lot of it. So once we received it, we would ship it right out the door.
Andrew: Because he’s just so good at Facebook ads and Google ads, he’s coming up with ideas and if they hate while he’ll figure it out afterwards.
And so in order to get started, you need a warehouse, which is space. How much did the warehouse cost? Roughly?
Brian: Yeah. So in the beginning we had a really small warehouse. It was about 200 square meters and it was only about 500 USD a month to rent it. So it was relatively cheap. and it wasn’t that big, but it like served our needs because we didn’t have a lot of volume. You know what I mean?
Yeah. No. They, although commercial space in China is usually just empty.
You have to kind of put your own things. So we had to buy shelves computers. we started by just printing out each order manually. So I’d take like an Excel sheet and I upload it into the, the shippers system and they would just print out hundreds of orders and then we’d have to match them all. And obviously doing that, there’s tons of room for human error.
So it’s like me sitting in a warehouse, like figuring out how to put all these things together. And that’s, I literally shipped the first order on my own, you know? And, we eventually evolved it to,
Andrew: Okay. Yeah. What software do you use? I interviewed a company that does that.
Brian: We use, yeah, we use a Chinese software. It’s called, I don’t know if anyone will know about it. RTB Ron tongue bow. And they’re basically a warehouse management software. They’re a Chinese company. And the reason why we want it to go with a Chinese company. Is that we need all the backend to be in Chinese because all the operators, all of the people at our company are Chinese and they need to read everything in Chinese, especially the low skill labor that’s in the warehouse.
They’re not going to know any English. Right. And also the advantage with going with a Chinese company is that they’re connected in terms of all the API APIs to all the local Chinese shipping companies. So we can easily print out labels and things like that more simply because those software is more connected into the ecosystem here.
Andrew: And so now it tells them here’s the label. No, it,
Brian: Correct. Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. So the magic is, our customer will put in an inbound warehouse order and when it arrives, they can match the tracking number with that receives with the product. They’ll count it. Automatically it will come all up in the system and then they’ll put it into inventory. And when we receive an order, it prints out delivery notes, which each item that needs to be on the order and they go and they take it and they scan it.
And once they scan it, they can weigh it and the label will print out automatically. So it’s kind of proof, right? Like it automatically does everything. They stick the label and then they label it. They scan it to make sure it’s left the warehouse. And then we pass it to the carriers. So it’s very hard for them to make an error in shipping.
Andrew: software now is really good. And then how do you connect with, with your customers?
Brian: No just, I mean, most of our customers use Shopify, at least the ones that do the direct from China fulfillment. So we had our software developers create the API to pull the orders off their store, and then we take that data. Fulfill it. And then our software will return all the tracking numbers back into the store after we’ve shipped.
So we do it all by API, but originally we just did it by CSV and actually tons of human era. You can imagine
Andrew: Yeah, I love that CSV. It’s basically like a spreadsheet, comma delimited file. It’s it. I love that how universal it is. And I still hate every time I get to, I get one of them. That’s fine. this is a good time for me to talk about my second phone, which is top tab. If you have a need for something like this, like.
Integration with other software. You want to build it yourself, but you don’t have the expertise in house. Go to top talent, just hire somebody from there. Tell the matcher what you’re looking for. And they will, chances are, have found somebody who’s done this before. Many times for other companies they’ll build it for you.
They don’t have to learn on the job. They’re experts at it. And when you’re done, you can move on or you could keep hiring that person higher than part time. Whatever you need. there was one entrepreneur. I interviewed the founder of picker. He said, I just call on my developer. Now whenever we need that person.
And then when we don’t, we don’t work with them. It’s kind of like a, was it a one said, Noah Kagan said, it’s like AWS developers spin them up when you need them, spin them down. When you don’t, you can even hire a team of people for when you need them. And yes, of course you could also keep them full time.
Alright. If you need to hire from top talent developer to do this or anything else, go to top. dot com slash Mixergy. You’ll be showing them that you heard me talk about them, which I appreciate. You’ll also get 80 hours of developer credit when you pay for your first 80 hours, in addition to a no risk trial period.
That’s top isn’t top of your head towels and talent. T O P T a l.com/m I N E R G Y. toptal.com/mixergy. I wonder if I’m saying the URL too much. At first I was too quick with it and then I heard myself and go, what the hell are you saying? Andrew slowed the freaked out. And then now I wonder if I’m saying the URL too much.
What do you think? You’re, you’re a marketer. How’s
Brian: Yeah, I’ve listened to a few years. Few of your podcasts when you’ve said it quick, I think it’s a little too fast. Like I can’t,
Andrew: Did I do it too slow
No, I think just saying the URL a bit slower. Probably we’ll give some people some time to write it down because every time it says it, it’s like it’s gone, you know, unless I want to bring that
Andrew: right. That’s that’s good feedback. Yeah. You don’t realize that I’m spelling it out until I’m three letters in and by then it’s Oh, it sucks to be a new Yorker sometimes.
Brian: It was great. I mean, we, we, we live really close to New York, so we were always like very connected to that, New York city scene in terms of like people going there to work.
But we also got. No, my dad was also an entrepreneur, so he started his own business selling, used actually during the.com bubble, you selling use computer equipment.
That was a thing. And he built local and wide area networks for large companies, but he would buy and flip like, networking equipment.
Back in the, no, like to big companies, he would sell to like Pepsi and Mercedes and he would buy stuff on the market and then resell it. So there was like a second hand, you know,
router market that he participated in.
Andrew: What were you like as a kid?
Brian: Yeah. Back in the day. I mean, I live sports. I played a lot of like soccer. I love lifting in the gym and things like that. but I was also a super quiet kid. I actually was incredibly shy when I was young and it wasn’t until I went to university. And was forced to basically talk to people that I learned how to like socialize, you know what I mean?
So like, I remember being in my dorm room and like, I just got there and there were like all these new people I’m just sitting alone and I’m like, well, I guess I gotta go like talk to people because like, I just, I just wasn’t really open to like meeting a lot of people when, you know, before I went to university.
Andrew: I would think that’s one of the reasons why I wanted to go away for you for school. I ended up staying at home, going to NYU, commuting from Queens in every day. And it was basically like high school plus instead of a college dorm experience. If for me, I didn’t have to get to know people until sometime during college, where at work.
My boss said, we have to go to breakfast with someone and I want you to charm them so that they want to do business with us. And I said, to charm you with what is this? And then she was good. She was just, it wasn’t, it was what you might call small talk, but with connection. And I didn’t know how to do that.
If you could talk, you could have asked me a specific question about the stock market. I could have answered it. I could have learned it, but just chatting with them about stuff. I didn’t have it. I could ask. I asked you about your relationship. If we’re not recording, I would probably ask you so much more about your relationship.
I saw a little bit of a smile there about how you got to know women in China. That would be a thing that you expected to have a conversation about if it’s a work dinner, right. Or what life is like in China about your apartment, which looks pretty freaking good. And all that stuff. Doesn’t doesn’t have any logical sense and I couldn’t do it.
And then I, I was embarrassed, but I went to the bookstore and I got a copy of Dale. Carnegie’s how to win friends and influence people. And I got two other books to hide it between. Cause I was so embarrassed. I’m the one I was embarrassed by what was it? The person who was checking me out, going to laugh at me.
I don’t know, but I got that. And then I took it home and that,
Brian: Yeah, that’s a great book. I always say like, whenever anyone asks me, what’s like your favorite book. I always referenced that book. I was forced to read it at university. How to, how to win friends and influence people. It’s incredible. Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. I mean, that’s like one of the, the timeless books, right.
That you read and it’s, it’s just as valid a hundred years ago as it is today. It’s a great book.
Andrew: Yeah. Yeah. I love that. I, I wanted an operating system for people. Any tells you the operating system for people within like the first chapter, if not the first section. And that helped me, but we all are. We all have egos. That’s the thing, right. We all
Andrew: way. It’s just, people have egos now let’s learn to live with it. Right. Until then I thought I was the only one that had to go and everyone else was just a, nothing that they had no goals and no, nothing like so funny to say, but honestly, that’s what I thought. How did, how through you got your first customer, how did you end up getting more customers?
Brian: actually, yeah, just mainly in the beginning it was all referrals. So the thing about our business is we’re kind of the backbone of, of eCommerce companies. And so we’re critical in terms of, if we make mistakes, it really hurts people, sales. It really makes them lose a lot of money. And so the most effective.
Way that we found from the beginning and even till now is like serve our customers really well. And they will by word of mouth, tell other people about our business and our. Best conversion rate in terms of like, when I talk to a new potential customer is always a referral. We convert them very well because, you know, there’s that trust that they’ve already been given from their friend or whatever.
So, so that’s how we started really is a lot of referrals from other friends that I knew in the market that kind of referred us,
Andrew: What’s your connection to tropical MBA.
Brian: I I’m actually part of their, dynamite circle, which is their private kind of entrepreneur group. And they talk about, and, you know, in the group, they talk a lot about location, independent businesses, and that’s kind of the first time I met my, my people, I call them like other entrepreneurs that think like me, that, that, that, that.
That run businesses and start businesses like me. And they have a conference every year in Bangkok that I started going to, and I just loved it. It was like 250 entrepreneurs of people that had a like-mind and I could talk about anything with them and they got it.
Andrew: Like what, what’s your connection? Because it feels like the tropical MBA, people are more about travel being location, independent, which you’re not you’re location dependent, heavily.
Right. And they’re very much about like, I could spin up a business quickly. They become, it feels like you’re the infrastructure guy for those people.
Not so much, you could relate to them, but maybe
Brian: Yeah, I can power them, but I think the way in which I relate is that since I live in China and I live in a different country, a lot of those guys that are in that group do travel often or live abroad. And I think having that connection of. You know how we deal with life in another country is not easy.
And that’s like the really strong bond that we all have is that we, like, we’re not, we’re kind of the weird outcast that, that didn’t fit in. And we left the U S and we’re kind of running around and that’s how we all fight and a common commonality. Yeah.
Andrew: Yeah. That part, I get a lot. Do you ever and be the stuff that they’re building because some of these guys in tropical MBA are just
Brian: I do. I Envia how it, I mean, to me it seems easy because we, we build physical infrastructure to ship physical things like warehouses and SA and like software and like humans loading and unloading containers. Like when I. For my whole warehouse. I do every job just to understand how hard it is and we have to load containers.
It is incredibly hard work. I could not imagine how hard it is to like load a full container of goods with boxes. I tried it and, and it’s really, really hard work. And I kind of envy the guys on the internet that are. You know, doing SEO and doing, you know, affiliate things and all this stuff. And the money seems like so easy.
It looks easy. I don’t know how easy it is, but it looks incredibly easy. We have to do like painstaking manual work to make money. And, I think I envy that I don’t, I don’t think it’s easy
Andrew: I went to baby bathwater an event also for people who are internet entrepreneurs. I am not a skier, but I went to their ski event and I wasn’t allowed with this dude who had a guide to how to text your wife and seduce her. And that thing was like making money for making bank, you know, who that’s his thing.
It was just shocking to see all the stuff that people are doing and making money. Meanwhile, you got physical products alone. You can’t double your book actually. How’d you do this year compared to last year? I was gonna say you can’t double your business after COVID. How did you do?
Brian: No, we did double. So that was one of the, yeah, that was one of the best things about COVID for us. I mean, as bad as the virus was for, for the world, you know, we’re seeing a lot of consumers shift their purchases online and also a lot of consumers that weren’t purchasing online. Like the older generation, maybe where my parents were now, they’re like buying stuff online for grocery shopping or for, for their produce.
And it’s like, they would have never started doing that. And last. They were forced to, unless they were forced to open that account and start using that account. And so our customers who are all eCommerce companies, their sales have actually grown as a result because I think they’re taking a larger share of the pie in terms of the, the, the overall.
You know, consumer pie. So, so yeah, it’s been very good for us and almost so good that it was overwhelming. Like I felt like, you know, as an entrepreneur, you want to grow sales like crazy, but whenever it happens, everything breaks. Right. And you’re miserable again, because just because like our volume increased so much that we, we didn’t have enough human power to actually like.
Do all the invoicing to like, get everything done because we are shipping so much, you know, multiple times what we’re used. So we’re just trying to handle our orders and all the back office stuff we didn’t have time for because we just didn’t have the manpower to handle that surge in demand.
Andrew: So what’d you do to deal with it
Brian: What did we do? Yeah, we basically hiring, like, I’ve had to learn how to hire. I just told my. The person that helps me with hiring, keep bringing people in the door for interviews and don’t stop. Just keep doing it. And so we just,
we just keep hiring. That’s all we do.
Andrew: how many people do you have now? What’s a
Brian: Yeah. So in China, low skill worker is around 20 to 25 RMB. So that’s about a three, two. $4 UFS an hour
per hour, correct? Yeah. And, a low skill, maybe monthly wage worker is around, let’s say, in a warehouse or in a factory in Shen Jen and Shenzhen is a higher wage area. It’s around 5,000 RMB, which I think now is around
Andrew: Okay. I should just keep saying Shen Jen instead of China, because we’re, we’re looking at a pretty big city, but it’s obviously not representative of the whole country.
Brian: Right. Yeah. The wages are a bit higher here because of the development in terms of, you know, it’s a first tier city in China, so China kind of separates it city by how it’s developed. And the first tier cities are the ones we probably know, which is Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Jo. And Shenzhen. And in those cities you have higher tech companies, higher skilled labor, and higher wages in general,
Andrew: By the way you’d never hear anyone in the U S call anyone a first tier city. It’s like it’s, I once heard Howard stern referred to one of the markets he was in is having a second city mentality, but it’s never, you never use it in a positive way. You never want to rank people unless you’re trying to rank them, you know, like insult them.
It’s a it’s culturally, it’s so different. Give me more stuff about China before we end. Actually I want to ask a little bit more about China and then close off with a suggestion that I have for you. Okay. All right. So tell me more like you were telling me about how fast a building gets built
Brian: Yeah. Yeah. So I think the thing that I’m so impressed about is just the speed, the speed of China. so we see at least in terms of construction, you can leave Shen gen for a few months. And in those months they can build, you know, 50 to 75% of the building. You know, before you know it. And I think seeing how fast that’s bill and seeing how fast they’re also constructing a Metro lines throughout the city and public transportation, you know, in a few years you have a whole new line that goes across the city and it’s like, you’re seeing it in real time happen just at an incredible amount of speed.
And I think it gives you some energy every day when you wake up, when you’re in that environment, you’re like, I want to move that fast too.
Andrew: Versus over here. Do you know how many, how many years they’ve been arguing over a fricking bike lane on Valencia street in San Francisco? The logic makes so much sense. You reduce cars, reduce traffic, encourage more people to be out, make it easier, make it safer, fricking conversations over and over again, because some store owner doesn’t want people to not be able to park in front of his store because he thinks that the way he can get customers is from people park.
I don’t know what it is. And then once they do. There’s all this stuff and it’s still, it’s been agreed to. It’s still not being built. We’re talking about fricking get a pan of paint and go paint the thing on the street. No, it’s not built. And in China, whole rail system is getting built. New York. The thing is falling apart.
It’s known for the subway. You think that if it’s known for this, I don’t want to be down on a U S but come on, people let’s, let’s think bigger. Let’s understand that we’re, we’re falling behind the world. And we’re not recognizing it because it was so much in our heads about how great we are. You know, it’s like a guy who’s patting yourself on the back and not realizing that he’s getting lapped
Brian: Yeah. And, and there’s a, there’s a lot of negatives for definitely having a one party system like in China, for sure. We all know that, but there’s also what you don’t think about is the incredible positives. And this is one of them. The government makes a decision. They think this rail line is the best for all the citizens in this region.
And they do it. They tell people, look, if you’re in the way, we’re going to pay you for your house or your business location at, but you got to get out of the way. We’ve got to do this for everyone. You know
Andrew: But you know what? Singapore doesn’t have one party. Singapore doesn’t have one party. I was in Singapore. The guy says, you know how the street we’re on is beach. I said, yeah, I’ve heard that. There’s like prostitutes in your building. He goes, yeah, it doesn’t matter. They’re about to tear down around our building.
Our building was beat street because it used to be on the beach. They built into the water more buildings, which is why it’s no longer on the beach anymore. They’re going to tear this building down. I have no say in it, and they’re going to build more newer built, better buildings. You look at things getting built.
You don’t have to have a one part. I mean, obviously I get that. The benefit of the bond party system in this context. But. God knows. I lived in New York. I saw bridges all over that were built a hundred years ago. They had multiple parties back then arguing with each other and they still got to build. And then they moved on to it’s just so frustrating to see.
what about day to day? I remember I moved to RJ. Argentina’s my big context. Ah, obviously I’ve been to other countries, but, that’s the one where I moved to most recently for a year. And I remember walking around saying, I want a cup of coffee and just walking around with a cup of coffee. So weird.
The woman. In order to give me a, to go cup, had to look around her office. She found one in the restaurant that was literally black and dusty. And I was so eager for just regular coffee to walk around with it. I accepted this, this styrofoam, dusty black cup, and I took that and walked around with a media Luna.
It’s not how it’s done. If you’re going to sit down and you sit down for coffee, you have a little medical Luna and you move on dinner is at 10. O’clock
Brian: Yeah, I would say the thing that’s kind of most impressive is the infrastructure in terms of delivery. So in the U S everyone’s like very excited about like prime day delivery, right? One day delivery, man. And in China we have 30 minute delivery. Like
one day too long groceries, you can order all of your groceries and they will come in 30 minutes.
Like. And it doesn’t cost a lot of money. and the delivery in terms of like food, let’s say like, take out and all that stuff is incredible. I can order anything. I want. It will be at my house between 30 and 45 minutes, regardless ice, food prepared, food sushi, my groceries. It’s incredible.
All in an app.
Yeah. Everything on an app. And they have like, kind of, teams of, bike kind of motorbikes that are running around, delivering all this stuff. And it’s incredible. Like one, some people say like, could you ever move back in the U S and I’m like, I don’t know. I don’t know if I could live without. Get not getting something within 30 minutes, you know, it’s just like, and I think that’s, that’s, what’s become in China.
Is there their infrastructure in terms of the technology and the type of delivery and things like that has really exploded. And
Andrew: What would you get delivered? Would you get breakfast delivered? You had a nice cup of coffee. Can I see that glass again?
It just looks nice. Even the way you were drinking it. As we were talking, you’re not, you’re not like me. I’ve got my big thing of hot water and I’m drinking all day.
Brian: you could. Yeah, you could have coffee deliver. You could have, ice deliver. You could have fresh produce delivered.
Andrew: What’s one of the things that you have delivered, that’s kind of a
Brian: a weird thing.
yeah, like anytime I want, like, you can get a bottle of like, maybe it’s not, you can get cocktails delivered if you want.
Like, like there are bars that will like they’re on the delivery app and want like a, Mohito like at two in the afternoon, just order from them deliver cocktails.
So I think that’s like something it’s probably, I don’t know if it’s even legal in the U S because of the kind of drinking laws, but
Andrew: Yeah. Well, I, you got to close out with a bit of advice for you. Look at how fascinated we are by China, the day to day life, the way you built your business, the kinds of companies that are your clients who are being run. Sometimes that people who are just ordinary people working just a regular job.
Sometimes the people who are traveling the world with their laptop and working, sometimes people were in tropical countries, just sitting there working there’s so much. Content for you to bring out there. There’s so much of you, there’s so much of your world that I would love to see. And I feel like, you’re not doing enough for me to know whether you’re legit or not.
I had to reach out to a mutual friend to say, is this guy for real or my, my. Is this another person trying to get on Mixergy and take advantage right there. Wasn’t, there’s a little bit on that, which is how I knew who to reach out to, but I feel like it’s not just you it’s everyone in your space is not public enough is not open enough is not.
Let me just show you the fricking picture. Forget. I’m on Instagram. I’m not going to give you the Instagram bull shots. I’m just going to give you a slice of life day to day. When you think of China, when you think of manufacturing, when you think of whatever you should be thinking of me, you should be thinking, Brian, Miller’s the guy like who was it?
Who the Huff guy, Dave Huss. Like, I’m not saying you should do what he’s doing. I was Googling him just as we were talking to get a sense of who he is. He’s branding himself, the paid traffic guy, right? The China guy that ch China delivery guy, there’s nobody there. Who’s doing it. And I feel like you’ve got a real opportunity and God knows we are fascinated by China.
Obviously there are people were frustrated by China. I get it. I’m not putting them down. I’m not saying they’re wrong. I’m just saying it’s also a group of people who are really fascinated by China. We’re really seeing the opportunity to build. And the whole thing is so different. That they are dying for somebody to aluminate it, the way that when I started Mixergy, there was no one saying, Hey, you see this Reddit site, let me bring you the guy who created, I read it and tell you how he did it.
And you know what? It’s not that crazy to build red. In fact, it’s overly simplistic to build Reddit. And let me bring you this guy who had a wacky idea for storing files online and using this, what was it called? The universal pocket or whatever drew house, right? Like there’s somebody needs to do that.
Let me show you how I get a Mohito bill. Get a Mohito here. In fact, we’re going to do this thing right now. And in 30 minutes, by the end of this interview, there’ll be a Mohito here now. What does that mean for you guys? If you’re listening
Brian: I agree. I appreciate the advice. I think it’s incredible advice. Yeah. I’ve had some friends also say it because I I’ve been in China so long that I know so much, but I don’t share it enough with the world. And
And then everyone’s doing these events in Thailand. If I want to go hang out. I’ll go with my wife. I’ll go out and hang out with my buddies. But if I’m going for work, I wouldn’t mind if you did an event in Chicago, right? Let’s just have a get together in Shenzhen. And here’s, here’s how bad I am at understanding China.
I wanted to go to run my marathon in China and do interviews in China. When I did my seven marathons last year. I talked to a friend of mine who, I don’t know if he’s comfortable being, being called outside, never mentioned his name, but he’s a guy who travels a lot for, for well-known top VC firm here.
He’s a part are there and he goes, Andrew, do you want to just bust into, into where Beijing? What are you thinking? You want to go to China? Just show up on announced. You’re giving me a week notice and you want entrepreneurs to give your revenue to you. You don’t understand the basics of how it’s done.
And then he steered me towards going to a, do interviews in, Singapore, which was totally open. I had no idea. I didn’t know that you’re not stupid, comfortable, revealing your revenue. Right. That’s why I didn’t ask you that question. I told you I was going to ask you, but give you a chance to say, I’m not going to tell you, but let’s, let’s be open.
And there’s a reason why I didn’t ask you. I’m on my way to Mongolia the woman at the United, the United terminal said, Andrew. Do you have a visa to go to China? I said, I’m not going to try and go. You have a stopover in China. China is different. You think you could just even do your own stopover and do whatever you want.
Right. That’s how little I know about it, but look how fascinated I am. We’re all fascinated. You’re there. I’d love to see more of that. I just realized that looking at your face, I’ve been ranting for way too long. And I could see
Brian: No, I enjoy it. I enjoy this rant. I enjoy when people get excited about it. Cause to be honest, like I’ve been telling my friends and family about China for so long and they’re sick of it. So I’m glad when I
Andrew: No. Yeah, bring that on. Bring that on. Alright. That’s all I got. That’s my little bit of feedback for you. Brian. Brian Miller is the founder of okay. To get rid of I’m so protective of the secrets that my guests tell me that I just delete everything you told me about your speaker business. I don’t accidentally reveal the special thing of the speaker.
I’m so fricking paranoid about that stuff. I’ve never once revealed something. Well, no, it turns out I once might have, It’s a whole long story, but I think the person was okay, but still bugs the hell out of me. Anyway, Brian Miller is Bounder of easy China warehouse. Check them [email protected]
And I want to thank the two sponsors who made this interview happen the first, if you need to build anything, if you need software developers, you’ve heard so many guests say that they’ve used top talent. Let me say it slowly like a regular person. Top towel top. Now let me spell it for you. Top T a l.com/m I N E R G Y.
And second sponsor the company that will make it so easy for you to get feedback from your audience and know what to do with it. It’s called delighted and I’m delighted that they are sponsors. Thank you. Alright, bye everyone.