How Ivan & Sasha Went from $700 to $100,000’s in Sales on Amazon
In this video, we sit down to chat with Ryan and Daniel students Ivan and Sasha, two dads who went from $700 to $100,000 in sales with their own private label on Amazon. They started with just that small $700 investment, and by reinvesting profits from the product sales, they now have enjoyed hundreds of thousands of dollars in sales over the course of the last 4 years.
Our initial investment has been returned to us many, many, many times over, they say.
We wanted to know exactly how they did it.
And one major piece of advice from Ivan and Sasha (which they explain further in this video): don’t underestimate the importance of measurable profit. Earning $30,000 a month in sales but only a $900 profit means you’ve still got a long way to go.
Here’s What We Cover:
1. How did Ivan and Sasha get started selling on Amazon?
2. What were the major KPIs Ivan and Sasha learned to keep track of to maintain a healthy business?
3. How did having strategic goals play a huge role in Ivan and Sasha’s success?
4. Why did Ivan and Sasha specifically learn from Ryan and Daniel’s program, and why did they stick to it?
5. What specific system do Ivan and Sasha use to stay productive and on track?
6. How did Ivan and Sasha get to a point of visibility with their products where having reviews on new listings didn’t even matter?
7. How did Ivan and Sasha stay focused and overcome obstacles, including growing competition?
8. How did this program change Ivan and Sasha’s life?
Want to Learn How You Can Get Results Like Ivan & Sasha?
Ivan & Sasha’s transition from $700 in sales to $100,000’s in sales through their own Amazon private label FBA business was made possible by joining Ryan & Daniel’s training Amazon FBA training program and then later joining the R&D Challenge.
The Infinity Code training program is our flagship Amazon FBA training programs designed to show you step-by-step everything you need to know so you can start your own Amazon private label business.
Interested in learning more about the Infinity Code?
To learn more about the program click here.
Daniel: And I want to start by just asking you how, and really the backstory. How did you get started with Amazon in the first place and why? Was there anything going on in your life or any reason that you really wanted to do this?
Ivan: I think that’s a very good question actually. Here’s what was going on. We both though were working at our regular jobs and we started thinking about how we wanted to gain more freedom, more independence. We wanted to make sure we’re able to provide more for the family, for the kids. [inaudible 00:01:05] would continue providing for them [inaudible 00:01:09] until the job. At this point we weren’t really sure what we were looking at so we started thinking, hey, let’s look at some business ideas, start reading some things.
Ivan: One of the things we read was Robert Kiyosaki’s “Rich Dad Poor Dad,” for example. And whatever you might want to say about the things he proposes, one thing that struck us that he proposed was the idea of cashflow quadrants, which basically split up into four where if you were getting most of your cash as an employee somewhere you were in the E-quadrant and you could be self-employed, a doctor or lawyer or plumber. Then you’re really working for your own business but you own it. And then If you’re in the next quadrant, called the B-quadrant, then you were actually, you own the business and you were actually making money from a system that you designed and that system was working for you. You weren’t working for that system. There might be people working for you. Someone like a Bill Gates would definitely be more along that kind of a quadrant. He doesn’t have to program Windows anymore. He has people to do that for him. And then the ultimate quadrant was the investor quadrant where you invest money and that money works for you, and that’s where our mentality started to change.
Ivan: So we started thinking that, alright, we want to get to the B-quadrant first but what about the I-quadrant later? Let’s start getting cash-flow from owning a business rather than just being an employee and getting a regular salary. Not saying our jobs were bad or anything like that. We enjoyed our jobs but there was that security to it. Companies get bought and sold all the time. You’re pretty much at the whim of the employer.
Daniel: So how long ago was this? I’m just curious.
Ivan: 2014. And it’s 2018 now.
Daniel: So about four years ago.
Ivan: About four years ago, yeah. So that’s when we got started and that’s what we’re meeting about cause our mentality started to change. We realized there’s just business opportunities pretty much anywhere you look, and the thing is most people aren’t trained to look for it and they don’t think to look for it. Most people just think about, oh, you know, how am I supposed to get the next promotion at my job or how do I not make the boss mad, things like that. Instead, we started looking, okay, how could this be used to make money? How could that be used to make money?
Ivan: I started looking through different ideas. Ebooks, rental properties, websites that could be monetized for different [inaudible 00:03:44], different communities. As we went through we came across the physical products idea and specifically selling on Amazon. There were other possibilities. Of course there’s Ebay, but Amazon really seemed to hit something there. We liked the idea that it was kind of more passive, that was kind of giving us more towards being able to build a system that would work for us. Amazon kind of allows for that. So we researched a little bit online and we started there.
Ivan: As we were learning we launched the first product. After some success we launched the second one pretty soon, but what happened was we kind of had limited growth. We realized there was a lot things we still didn’t know. We had to try new things. We had to reinvent the wheels too many times over and we knew that the knowledge was out there. People knew it so we started looking, and at this point we found Ryan and you Daniel, and after we searched there we joined your program and we just learned a ton. Say thank you for that.
Daniel: Awesome. So you were doing private label right, before you entered the program with us?
Ivan: Right. We were, it was private label, and that came from the research before entering your program. And like I said, we launched the product. It was successful, it was making money. We launched the second product. That was making money too. But after a while it’s kind of like, well, where do you go from here? Sure we can keep launching products but there’s more to it than that where things that were happening, different directions, do we do this? Do we do that? We’re kind of spread out trying a little bit of everything. It was kind of like no focus, no system.
Daniel: So that was one of the biggest issues. It’s like just what do we focus on, what actually gets results.
Ivan: Right. Exactly. So we started the program. It was one of your early programs back then, and we learned basically, essentially what was important to do. What was important to focus on from you guys. How do we set up and operate a system for this business? What do we keep track of? It was a lot of things. I know there was how do you do the product research? How do you create a listing? Just these things that was very specific that we learned from you guys. Customer lists. Think something that we’re not doing on our own. And KPIs. Key performance indicators. How to optimize asus, how to do sales finals, A/B testing. Just so much.
Daniel: Great. And I guess we can take a little bit of time to kind of talk about the most impactful things that you experienced. Let’s start with just one thing. What really had a big impact specifically that you didn’t know before?
Ivan: Well, I cannot overemphasize KPIs. Both Sasha and I are of a computer background so maybe we’re a little bit more geared towards numbers, but KPIs, which are key performance indicators, we found them to be invaluable. It’s great when you know how to source a product. All of this is important. You have to be able to source a product, you have to know how to make a listing for it, photographs, everything. But what you keep track of, what numbers are important, what numbers are not so important, how do you know if you actually have a healthy business… and that’s what we learned. I mean, before this we had no idea what a conversion was. What was the number of sessions, how many people looked [inaudible 00:07:23]. What? We didn’t know any of this. PML, profitable loss, gross income, gross sales, what was all that? And we learned all this as a result of this business.
Ivan: Definitely if you don’t mind I’d like to give a little example without going into too many crazy details. So after we learned this, what we were finding is we’re selling a good bit of product but the profit just wasn’t quite there. We were making money but it wasn’t as much as we kind of wanted to, and we weren’t really understanding what was going on. I think it’s a common mistake for people who’ve started a physical product business is they will know how much they bought the product for. They will know what the Amazon fees are if they’re selling on Amazon. Probably know what they make after they make a sell. But then they will neglect or forget to keep track of, let’s say, ad spending. They might forget to keep track of operational expenses. Maybe they’re paying for some kind of tools or software to help them with their business: email, auto-responders for example. Things like that.
Ivan: And after we learned the KPIs we were able to look at this and we found with several products, we’re like, oh my god. This, this, this. We’re spending too much here, we’re spending too much here. This isn’t as effective as it could be and it’s obvious we’re looking at the numbers that we knew, and once we knew the changes were extremely simple to make. Next thing you know the product is making three, four times what it used to be making in profit.
Daniel: It’s amazing.
Ivan: And you can’t overemphasize it.
Daniel: The power of numbers. And I think most Amazon sellers aren’t aware of the numbers properly. And that’s all the power, when you understand it. Like you say, exactly the numbers you have, then you know what to do: what really makes sense to do. What KPIs are the most important to you guys still today?
Ivan: Well, we actually have an advanced spreadsheet that we kind of keep, and basically what we do is on a regular basis this is updated with KPIs which will break up our product and… now there are some KPIs that are more important, there are some KPIs that are less important, but they are all important.
Ivan: And so, some of the things we’ll look at is, for example, sessions. How many people actually looked at the product. It’s important. You have to know. Conversions. Out of those people that looked, how many actually bought? So if 100 people looked and 10 people bought that’s a 10 percent conversion which could probably be improved. So that’s one of the things that we look at.
Ivan: Profitability, of course. How much did you make from the product after all was said and done? Meaning not just how much it cost you to buy the product and what you sell it for, but what fees did Amazon charge you? How much did you spend on advertising for that product? After all that’s computed, how much did the, say, product inserts cost, for example? If you make labels or you make little inserts that you include in your product. How much did that cost? How much did shipping cost? So after all that is accounted for how much money did you actually make? That’s important.
Ivan: So kind of like, I guess, gross… gross profit for product. And of course you have to apply how much did you spend just on business operations that weren’t product specific. And the ultimate, which was the net profit or loss. Chiefly important KPI.
Daniel: So you had basically… it was break down all the numbers, right? And it answered the net profit or loss.
Ivan: Exactly, yes.
Sasha: Another thing-
Daniel: Yes, sir. Go ahead, so sorry.
Sasha: Another important piece that we learned was called “Optimize the products,” because I always thought we have a bunch of products and they are selling but I feel like maybe they can sell more. Maybe there are ways to improve what we have, so we add new products but we also make more out of what we already have, right? And it was always a very vague idea, so but how do we do this? How do we make… what can we make better and how do we make it better, and that’s what we learned. How to get all those different pieces that you can optimize. So how to optimize it properly: small piece by piece, how to split test it properly to actually get very good idea of what works better as opposed to just, yes. Again, it came down to numbers and that became very clear, so now we don’t just add products. Now we optimize every product that we have to make the most out of it. That was another really important piece for me, thank you.
Daniel: That’s one of the keys, absolutely, because you’re leaving so much on the table and you’re really limiting your growth if you are not able to capitalize on what you already sourced, and I mean that takes so much time, right? I’m curious, guys. What else do you have… kind of two different roles in the business or are you doing everything together? I’m just curious because I’m always fascinated by partnerships. What do you guys, each of you focus on?
Ivan: I guess I’ll take that first and Sasha, you can add. We are partners in the sense that decisions are always made together and by consensus, but I know not everyone does that. At the same time we kind of have areas that we focus on, for example Sasha is more towards… he’s a little more development oriented, like programming and computers. He might be focused more on some of the technical aspects of the business. For example, we have our own website. That would be more something that Sasha would handle. I handle more of the money side, keeping track of the finances, and we split tasks up like that. What we do together though is something called sprints. I’m not sure if you’re familiar with that.
Daniel: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely.
Ivan: I don’t know if Sasha, if you want to get into how we do the sprints a little bit.
Sasha: Yeah, so the whole idea… I mean, many people are very familiar with the sprints. We figured out how many sprint points we can do in one sprint and we just figured out… basically it tells us how much work we can actually accomplish in one sprint, so now we have a good idea. And when we start the new sprint, which is usually two weeks, we look at our goals, strategic goals of where we want to develop our business and we decide which action items we should be doing right now to get us to those goals, and we put them into the sprint and we design the difficulty level to each of them, which is the story points, like one, two, four, something like that. And when we look at those again we can see whether that’s too many of them, meaning that we cannot do that much work in sprint. We just know that from experience.
Sasha: Or maybe we have some more space so we can add some more items to that, and then we have a list of things that we actually going to do in this following sprint and we split them up, and we just work over two weeks to get those done. Then we… when that’s over we look at what we did during the two weeks and make some conclusions. What we did good, well, or what we actually didn’t do, what we failed to do, or other things that we learned during the sprint. So those are very often practical conclusions too, because it’s not just oh well, we failed at something, but it’s usually translated into some action. Here’s what we need to do to make this good thing happen more, or to make this bad happen not to happen again. That’s [crosstalk 00:15:20] do with the sprints.
Ivan: I think just [inaudible 00:15:23] maybe for your viewers who might not be as familiar with what sprint is, let me try to do a quick explanation of what that is. Basically think of a sprint as a period of time, in our case we do two weeks, where we decide on a set of actions that we need to do, and these actions are all really geared to reach certain objectives that we decide. Okay, we want to reach this particular objectives for example, this many sells of this many product. How do we do this? And we will determine certain actions to achieve that. And it doesn’t just have to be one objective. It can be multiple objectives with multiple actions, and as Sasha said, we assign something called story points which is basically a measure of how difficult an action is. So a really simple, quick action might be one story point. Something more complicated might be two, three or four story points. [crosstalk 00:16:17] [inaudible 00:16:18] and basically what Sasha said.
Daniel: And this comes from software development, right? [inaudible 00:16:24]. And I’m honestly not sure if you guys figured this out kind of on your own, or if you heard it from us because this is exactly the same thing we do in our office. It’s the same exact methodology.
Sasha: We know that you do the sprints too but we haven’t heard all those details from you guys, we just know that you do it too. But the thing is that I am a developer so we do that at work. I adopt that method to what we do in the business because it really keeps everything more manageable and we know what we can do and what we cannot do.
Daniel: It’s amazing that you’re doing it this way because this changes everything, right, when you start looking at it this way and it fits perfectly with the numbers, the KPIs, the optimization, right?
Ivan: Right. I agree because before we were doing it, again, we were just spread out all over the place. It was along the lines of hey, let’s try this. Hey, let’s try that. Oh, let’s try this. And then you kind of end up starting a bunch of different things, finishing only a few of them, and you have no idea what results you get back from them. It’s crazy! That’s not how you run a business.
Daniel: Yeah, but that’s how most people can run it. I mean, honestly, because most people don’t have the background that you guys have to figure this out.
Ivan: Right. That actually brings me to something I kind of what to say, because that’s absolutely true, Daniel. You’re absolutely right. Most people don’t have that background but this comes back to that changing our thinking that was mentioned earlier where I was saying, well, we learned to look for opportunities. We also looked to learn, I’m sorry, learned to look for knowledge versus just education. Because anyone can go and get an education. A degree, a diploma. How much knowledge did you gain out of it? That’s the key. You can gain knowledge in a lot of different places anywhere. You have to look.
Ivan: You can look up how to do sprints pretty easily online. There will be a number of resources that will teach you how to do it. You don’t have to be a computer developer to do it. Now, the whole thing is maybe you have to hear about it, but if you kind of keep an open mind and when you hear things or just come across things always think, how can this help me in my business? But that’s kind of how we were thinking. And it doesn’t matter if it’s at work, if it’s outside of work, anywhere. If you come across something, you see something that you think, hey, this is going to help me in my business, well… maybe take the time to learn about it. If you ultimately decide it doesn’t help you, hey, at least you learned something. If it helps you, well, great.
Sasha: Another thing that we learned recently and Ivan, do you remember that idea from Seth Godin that-
Ivan: Ah, yes.
Sasha: Do you remember what exactly he said?
Ivan: Was that about the strategic goals?
Ivan: I’m trying to remember what exactly he said. How it was phrased. You’d have to maybe find that link. But basically it boiled down to the fact that you really need to have a strategic goal. I know, Sasha, while I’m talking if you can find that little quote. It was a really good quote. This was something that we realized after we started making money, applying the system, everything we learned from you guys. But we needed a further-out goal. How do we continue to grow and what exactly are we actually trying to achieve with this?
Ivan: Now, the simple answer obviously is profit. That’s the point of a business, making profit. But you kind of need to define it a little bit better. How much profit? From where do you anticipate to get that profit? What we started doing is we started defining strategic goals, long term and short term goals, and then we started breaking it down into smaller technical goals and specific action items on how to reach any given technical goal, which then get incorporated into the sprints. And I don’t know if Sasha was able to find that particular quote but basically it boiled down to is that you need to have strategic direction otherwise you’re just kind of floating.
Daniel: Yeah, you seem to be working towards a specific goal, objective at all times and then measure that with your numbers, right?
Ivan: Yeah, exactly.
Sasha: I remembered that we were doing the sprints before but I noticed that we have a long list of things that we want to do; we think that may be helpful and useful. It’s kind of just a big list of things that doesn’t have any system to it and we were just trying to pick things that we think would be good instead of having some systematic idea of what exactly we are doing and what we are trying to achieve. After that breakthrough we decided, wait a second, let’s just split up this into the actual goals for the business and some goals, but very measurable goals. We want to make profit, not just make bills or get a certain number of visitors or whatever, so we came up with this structure.
Sasha: We broke the business into a few pillars, that we call. It’s that simple. Business, and each of them is responsible for different parts of it, like one is for Amazon. Another one is for other sales online. Third one is for physical storage. We actually are trying to dive into local stores and try to work with them and sell there. So we came up with this very clear structure and each of those pillars has its own goal, and it’s measurable. It’s profit that we’re trying to achieve. So now everything that we do has to fit into those, and if it doesn’t fit, why are we doing it? We shouldn’t be spending time on something that is not bringing us anything that goes towards the goal. So I think that was one of our greatest breakthroughs and now the sprints are a lot clearer because now we know exactly what were doing and why we’re doing it and we don’t do other things.
Daniel: Yeah, exactly. Yeah-
Daniel: Oh, sorry. Go ahead, Ivan.
Ivan: I don’t want to go off on a tangent but just something else Sasha said that brought this little point to mind, which was the whole… measurable profit. I just want to emphasize that because some people will chase sells, or they’ll chase best seller ranks, or they will say, “I sold a thousand products this month. Look how awesome I’m doing.” Fine.
Ivan: I once talked to somebody who was also doing an Amazon business and he’s not a student of you guys. He said something like, “Oh, we’re selling 30,000 per month. We’re getting 30,000 per month from Amazon.” Well, after a couple of drinks I asked him what exactly is your profit? How much did you actually make last month? “Oh, 900 dollars.” I laughed. I’m like, you need this drink more than I do. That just wasn’t a good profit. We had started talking and he kind of told me a little bit more and I think he was making a lot of these common mistakes. He was chasing things that really he shouldn’t have been chasing. And he didn’t have a sense of direction. I just want to sell more, sell more, sell more. That’s not a strategy.
Daniel: Yeah, I mean, because at the end of the day the only thing that matters is profit, right? So that’s what you have to optimize.
Ivan: Yeah, exactly.
Daniel: So thanks guys so much for sharing that. That’s extremely valuable information and insights. It’s funny because it’s exactly the same line of thinking that I’ve had for many years now, and we really incorporate it into our teams, and it’s something very few Amazon sellers do and understand. So it’s really… these are really great insights for people listening to this, I think. Because this really is the key, to get into this kind of thinking and operating your business this way, like in a scientific way. I always look at it that way. It’s a scientific way of running your business versus just kind of random. So yeah, thanks so much for that. And I guess to kind of expand on this, I would say the KPIS and stuff that you discovered when you kind of joined our program brought you guys into this, and then you were able expand on it with what you already knew, right, from your jobs and things like that. I guess, is there anything else that really made a big impact?
Ivan: There’s just so much, but certainly, let’s see. I was just trying to think of something that would be particularly useful to the audience here.
Daniel: I can say everything you do ties into this approach, right? Everything ties into the sprints and the KPIs so it’s gonna-
Daniel: Everything is in there, right?
Ivan: Yeah, and the thing is that we learned so much of this stuff from you guys that I just don’t remember exactly what we came up with ourselves, but I think a lot of it we didn’t. Like the KPIs we definitely got from you, the specific one. Building a brand, how about this, and this was something we weren’t really thinking about when we started but we definitely learned it from joining your guy’s program.
Ivan: It was something about let’s build a brand. You’re not just gonna pick a product launch, pick a product launch. What you want to do it pick a product that’ll grow in a particular brand, where that brand will start having some kind of presence and that’ll actually get you more legitimacy. You might be able to sell more premium products as a result gathered by a profit margin. That’s one of the things we learned from you guys and I think that was huge, because I see Amazon sellers on there, even private label, who sell things that just don’t even tie into each other. You might see someone selling makeup sponges next to a kitchen shelf. Like, really? Seriously, what kind of product tie is that. They’re both maybe great product ideas but I don’t see how they go together. That’s not much of a brand.
Daniel: You’re missing out on the potential of building a brand. So you guys, do you have an exit strategy in mind with your business or what is your end game? Do you have that? Because some people just want to run the business and have it, right? Some people want to build something and sell it.
Ivan: I think my personal end game would be to pass it on to the kids. That doesn’t mean we won’t necessarily sell it if the time and the opportunity seems right, and then maybe enlist in something else. But also the brand grows and there’s no reason not to have it be a family business, have it become a holding. Multiple brands. There’s no reason not to do that. I think that’s something that would basically ensure the future for our families. I think a lot of people could do this. You don’t have to have a huge brand, you don’t have to be the next Facebook.
Daniel: Because Amazon is so huge it doesn’t take much to get a nice chunk that serves you well.
Ivan: And one percent of a million is still halfway decent.
Daniel: Yeah. Can I ask you, do you have one brand now or more and how many products roughly?
Ivan: We have one main brand. We’re actually launching a related but separate brand. They are however related, they’re kind of under one umbrella if you will. Let’s see, separate products… we have several. Coming close to thirty, isn’t it? Yeah, 25 I believe. And we’re actually planning to launch the next seven. It snowballs, you see. It might sound like oh, 30 products, that’s not a brand, but they’re 30 consistent products in a consistent niche with a consistent brand name. And sure, at first when you’re first starting out you don’t have a lot of money. You can only launch maybe one product at a time, two products at a time. Now we’re launching seven at a time. Next we’ll launch even more than that. Ten, I don’t know. Twelve.
Daniel: That’s fantastic.
Ivan: And it snowballs. It’ll go from small to kind of big, big, big, big, big and [inaudible 00:28:29]. You become bigger.
Sasha: It’s such as that, what’s so interesting, what has been changing for us gradually that we weren’t just looking first for profitable ideas of what products to develop and sell. And eventually we came to the idea, what if we actually just tried to take over a niche and become a known brand, a known name in that niche? And that seems to pay high dividends which we didn’t realize initially that that would happen, because right now everyone doing this kind of business they learn that, for example, reviews are very important on Amazon.
Sasha: Now it’s become very difficult to get reviews on the new product, so I remember when we would launch a new product and it would not have any reviews it’s very difficult to start selling it because people don’t trust it, right? There’re no reviews, nobody knows us and we’re just standing still. And now we launch a new product and we are just barely starting to promote it, or think how to promote it, and suddenly we see that it sells by itself, no reviews, nothing. And it all comes down to people writing us messages like, “You guys create such great products that when I need something like this I know where to go to. I’m just going to you.” And it’s crazy to imagine that I never thought it would develop to that level of visibility in the niche, but we are actually known to people who value high quality products in this category.
Sasha: Now it’s becoming easy to launch new products, even toward our new line. Oh, they’re gonna sell just because people know us already. So that’s why right now we don’t think of, is this product very profitable or maybe we shouldn’t be doing it. We are just adding more products to cover the niche completely so that we become a big name in the niche and people really know us. They go we are just becoming go-to in this category, but that’s why-
Ivan: Now that said, we’re not making unprofitable products. It’s just that it doesn’t have to be, not every product has to be a home run anymore. We want to, as Sasha said, become [inaudible 00:30:45] to resource.
Daniel: You want to expand the brand because that creates value, and that makes the whole thing more successful, right. It’s really fantastic and it just goes to show what you’ve been able to build at that you’re able to launch this many products at once now. Do you have any employees or do you have any systems to help you skim?
Ivan: We had assistance but so far they’re not full time employees. Mostly outsourced, so for example when we were building our own web store, even though Sasha knows actually how to do that, he could program it but there’s still aspects of design… that kind of thing. So we actually hired someone to do that. And that was a good example. So yeah, and we also had someone working for us who was helping us keep track of the KPIs, updating, basically without the procedure. And the procedures gave you a step by step. It doesn’t have to be someone who has a master’s degree from college. It was basically someone who can read and follow directions pretty well, and that saves us a lot of time. I no longer go in for every profit and try to collect every KPI and stick it into a spreadsheet, where someone [inaudible 00:32:03].
Ivan: Now, kind of since I’ve mentioned the website, I will say that the brand name again worked for us there. We got the website up, we launched it, didn’t do a single ad yet. Literally the next day we already had visitors and we even got some corporate clients out of it. Some who said, “Well, we need something customized but we’re gonna order more of it.” Why not. Sure.
Daniel: That’s fantastic. So you’ve been able to reach other kinds of customers as well through the website.
Ivan: Yeah. I’ve even had instances of just accidentally seeing our product out there in the world, in real life.
Ivan: My daughter ran across one and she looked and she’s like, “Oh my god, is that you? Hey, dad!”
Daniel: That’s a good feeling, right?
Ivan: Yeah, yeah. I was in New York City and I saw someone using our product, and I’m like, “Wow. Really? Cool.”
Daniel: Those are the best moments because if you’re really proud, it’s something you’ve created then it’s real and people are buying it and using it.
Ivan: And you think, 2014. Four years ago we were nothing. Nobody ever heard of us, we’ve never done anything, we didn’t even have anything. Four years later, here we are. Now when we first started working with you guys I remember sending you some numbers, but remember how even after just a month of going through your program we were able to tweak things. As I recall, our profits I believe doubled. I think it was two and a half times to be exact.
Ivan: I don’t have those numbers in front of me anymore, and we’re just continuing to grow.
Daniel: And I think you guys deserve a lot of praise as well because you have been able to stick with this and focus on this and continue to grow it, right. So continue to expand. And even if there’s ups and downs… I’ll ask you kind of maybe what have been the biggest obstacles, but you’ve been able to stick to it and continue to overcome the obstacles and continue to build this up. And over time almost the effects compound, right, so that’s why things grow like this, and that’s what’s going to happen when you stick to something over time.
Ivan: Yeah. I’m not saying it’s always a perfect curve. Sometime it’ll kind of bounce up and down but they eventually grow. We had obstacles like we had competition coming in. They were way underpricing us, and things like that happen. Except, well, how long can you continue selling a product really cheaply if you end up losing money? Well, not that long. So after a while they’ve kind of faded away and faded into the background, cause you can’t maintain it.
Ivan: At the same time, while we’re going by the numbers, we’re certain because of the approach we’ve learned from you guys that this will work. We will weather the storm. Not like it was a huge storm, but it was just another obstacle to worry about. And we did have a conversation about, me and Sasha, like oh, what’s going on? Is this gonna be a problem? Maybe no it’s not. But no, let’s stick to the system. We know the system works. If anything we’ll ask Ryan and Daniel, they’ll definitely tell us, and let’s just keep going. Just focus, focus, and focus again. This is very important. Don’t lose your focus, because if you start losing your focus you start going, “Oh my god. Oh, I’ve got to do this and this and this.” Forget it. That’s it, you lose. You have to focus. Focus on the end goal. You have to focus on following the system. Once you lose the focus, you lose.
Daniel: Absolutely, and it really helps to have a system like you guys have with the sprints. And is it scrum, by the way?
Ivan: Yes, yes it’s scrum. Yes, that’s what we call it. We use scrum every day. Basically, again for people who don’t know it, scrum is when we… every day we will look at the sprint and we will review what actions are being done and if there are any blockers. Blockers meaning any obstacles that might prevent the action from being done. And yeah, there’s always something that comes up. Can’t think of an offhand example but there’ll always be something.
Daniel: Because that’s kind of the process of business, right, is solving problems over and over again. But I think this system is so great at putting it all together so you’re always doing… looking at the right things and working on the right things, and it helps keep your focus. I would say a part of this is a mind game, right. Believing and things like that, but then this system keeps you still in tune with everything that’s going on at all times.
Ivan: Exactly, yeah.
Daniel: That’s fantastic. Have you had any major obstacles that almost made you give up, or have you been to that point at any points in the process?
Ivan: Sasha, can you think of anything really bad that made us give up? Or almost give up?
Sasha: You were very upset about the competition when more and more competition came in and it was, we keep growing, we keep doing stuff, but we are just in a plateau. We are not making more, sometimes we make less and it just was a little depressing. But I don’t think we ever came to a point where maybe this is not going to work, maybe we should just stop. It was never like that because we knew it’s working and we always believed it’s a matter of figuring out what to do about it. How to do it right. It’s not about whether this is going to work or not, we just need to find a way to make it work smart. Not just try to work hard, but try to work smart.
Ivan: And rather than asking the question of, “Oh my god, what can’t we do?” We asked ourselves, well, what can we do? Okay, maybe we can’t do this and maybe we can’t do that. Maybe we don’t have a crazy amount of money in the bank so we can’t out-advertise the competition, for example, or we can’t under-sell them. Okay, fine, what can we do? Well, we can do this and we decided it, and then we stick to it, and then we do it. And we see if the results match up. We might adjust the action if the results aren’t quite what we want. But I wouldn’t say we ever got to the point of giving up. Certainly at one point a lot of competition came in, but if you follow the system there’s just so much untapped opportunity out there, I think.
Ivan: Amazon, I’ve heard this said, “Oh, Amazon is oversaturated.” No, no it’s not. There’s still a ton of opportunity out there, and I see Amazon as launching pad for us. It’s not the end all, be all. You don’t have to stay exclusively with Amazon but it’s a great launch platform.
Daniel: Absolutely, and Amazon will never remain static. The products are always evolving, there’s always new opportunities, more volume even. I mean it’s, it’s sort of what understanding what you’re doing and seeing clearly. Seeing what is a good opportunity, what’s not. I think that’s the skill set that really makes you a winner long term versus someone that gets confused and gives up.
Ivan: Yeah, completely, because recognizing opportunities is very important because if you don’t recognize the opportunity properly, you’re going to end up getting into a product that, for example, just won’t sell or is maybe so… I don’t want to say niche-specific, but just such a narrow audience it might only get you one or two sales a month. Well, what’s the point? You handle some products that’ll just sell a ton and still get you pretty decent profit. Well, why wouldn’t you do that? And they’re not oversaturated. There’s millions of products on Amazon, literally.
Daniel: And it changes everything once you start to see it this way because now your eyes are open, and you’re looking for positive things that you can do instead of looking for problems.
Ivan: Right, exactly. Don’t look for problems, the problems will find you. You just have to know what to do about them and I think that’s what we also learned quite a bit from you guys. We had a number of times when we talked to you and we’d say, oh hey, we have this problem and this problem. What can we do about them? We’re thinking this and this, what do you think?
Daniel: I really have to say that I really, really love the approach both of you have because it’s so rare but it’s so powerful. It’s more scientific, realistic approach to things, and it’s pretty uncommon but it’s something that we really share. I share and have a lot of connection with you guys because of that, and I want to say again, thanks for really taking the time to share this with people. I think people will really enjoy it and I think this has been really, really valuable, and I think it will open eyes for a lot of people in just how you can approach this business. You don’t have to look at it like you’re just in a random situation, that it’s a game of luck and chance. It’s actually something that you can be very specific and detailed with, and just run it constantly in a scientific manner where you’re always getting better and better at what you’re doing, and you know more and more what actually works.
Ivan: Right. Exactly. And that’s the thing, I think you just made a very valid point. It’s not gambling, it’s systematic. It’s not even trying to guess the direction of the stock market which has, of course, its own system. That’s not gambling entirely either if you’re smart about it. But here, I mean, let’s just say you’re making… I don’t know, I’m just going to pull a number out of thin air. Let’s just say you’re making a 10% profit every month in the amount invested. Well, that’s pretty good. You’re not making 10% per year, you’re making 10% every month. What if you’re compounding it every month? What are you making now? Now you’re making quite a bit-
Daniel: You’re making better than the stock market.
Ivan: Yeah, that would be a lot better than the stock market. I mean, make it simple. Imagine you can, give me 100 dollars in January, I’m going to give you $110 at the end of the month. I mean, if we play the game like that, would you play it? I would. But then I’d say, hey, in February let’s do the same thing. Give me $100 and I’ll give you another $10, another $110. If you keep doing that… March, same thing. I’ll give you another $110 as long as you give me $100 at the beginning of the month. Well, how much do you have if every month I give you exactly 10 dollars and all you keep giving me is just that $100? Now you still keep your original $100 at the end of the year and you have, what, 10 x 12? $120? So what percent return is that? Pretty good, right?
Daniel: Yeah, this is with a big mind tax, mindset hacks with this business model that’s… look at it as investments. You’re basically creating these investments or these assets for yourself that pay dividends over time, and that’s teaches everything when you look at it that way. You’re not looking necessarily for a 200% return within a few months. No one can realistically expect that over and over again long term with anything, really. That’s just, it’s very hard, right? But getting a 10%, 20% return on your money over time in business is also a big deal. But with this business model you can realistically achieve that, and that’s the really powerful thing.
Ivan: Yeah, because of scale. You scale it. It’s easy to save a hundred bucks when you get 10% back. What happens when you scale it? What happens when you risk $200, $300, $400? Now every [inaudible 00:43:24] think of that as an investment. It’s also an asset, an asset that generates income for you. Why wouldn’t you do it?
Daniel: Exactly. So, I wanted to ask you guys before we close… I know we’ve been on here for a while, I don’t want to keep you too long, but how has this… so on a personal note, how has this business impacted your lives or you guys personally?
Ivan: Sasha, you want to go first?
Sasha: Well, we are far from where we wanted to be initially and where we still want to be in terms of making certain amount of profit, and we’re not there yet. But we have learned so much. It’s like we’ve hit the plateau a few times but we realized that very often it was because we didn’t know something; because we know some things but not the complete picture, it’s clear. And once we learned those critical pieces, now it becomes a breakthrough and now we know what to do and we go to the next stage and it’s working, and we’re not there yet but I see that it’s working and I know that we just need to focus and stay at it and that’s it.
Sasha: But not just stay at it and do something, but be very systematic about ‘here’s the goal, here’s what we need to do to reach that goal, do this.’ Don’t try to run around and do a bunch of different things. You know, we were just talking about this today. Sometimes we both come up or we read about something, we see the new opportunities somewhere because we read about it or we look at something and we see a new opportunity, and I am susceptible to this shiny thing disease when I see something new and shiny and say, “Oh, that’s so cool! I think that would be so good to do this and that would be interesting and it would bring profit and everything.” But then I know that we shouldn’t just start running in all directions trying different things.
Sasha: So sometimes we discuss the idea just to brainstorm it, kind of like an exercise in thinking about the business idea, but then we just shelve it. We have a special list of different ideas where we record things but we know, no, right now we’re just focusing on this because otherwise it’s not going to work. We just need to keep, stay at it and keep going systematically, and I think that’s one of the biggest lessons that I learned because we did try doing different things. Maybe not different businesses, but even inside this business we just went in so many directions. Tried this and tried that and we didn’t see any result because we were not trying to accomplish any one goal in a very systematic way.
Sasha: But I know that if we just keep the goal in mind and break that down into the actions that could get us there, we’ll just keep doing those actions and sooner or later we’ll get there.
Ivan: And I will add from my own side… maybe a little more of a personal and a little less away from the business because you asked how this impacts us personally. I’ll give you an example. So, when I was a teenager I was working as a cashier and occasionally you would see these high end cars come into the parking lot. Especially when you’re a teenage guy, they send you out to collect the shopping carts. So you’re out there and you’re checking out these cars, and occasionally you’d see really nice ones. You’d see exotic cars, Ferraris, Lamborghinis. I mean, not very often, they are exotics. I don’t live in Beverly Hills or anything like that, but hey, on occasion, a couple times a year you might see them and you go wow, I’ll never be able to afford that. That’s just not possible. And these are 100,000, 200,000 dollar cars. So that was basically my mentality for a long time.
Ivan: So last weekend I believe… no, the previous weekend, I took my kids to a car show. I have a daughter and a son. My son really is into cars and my daughter doesn’t mind, and they ran in there and they’re checking out all these cool cars. It just has a whole different range of cars from antiques to these exotics to nice BMWs, Tesla cars, that kind of stuff. So my son jumps into a Tesla and he’s like, “Dad, I want this! Dad, I want this!” And the salesman comes up to me and I know that these Teslas are pretty expensive. This is one of the more expensive models. And he’s like, “Ah, so what do you think of this car?” And I’m like, “Oh, it’s cool. I don’t know, how much would something like that even cost?” And he tells me, and I’m like, “Oh my God. I could actually, in theory, afford something like that.”
Ivan: Realistically. Not afford as in cut every single possible personal expense and afford it. Realistically I could actually afford that. The cars I have now, actually the last car payment is this month. Between that I could easily afford that now. That was a huge personal change. From going… or the Ferrari that was in a booth next door. Wasn’t one of the super high end ones. It was still a Ferrari though and it looks really nice. Was maybe a little more expensive than the Tesla, but again, I was looking at it and the guy said how much it cost and I went, oh my god, this is within reach. Reasonably, realistically within reach. Maybe not something I would go out and buy right now, but just as a personal thing, when you go from this teenager looking and going, “Oh my god, I’ll never have this,” to “Wow, I could actually get this.”
Daniel: Wow, that’s fantastic. That really actually is touching to hear because that’s the transition that’s happening. Now you’re able to do something that you’ve dreamt of doing and you didn’t think was even realistic, but now it’s definitely realistic. And then I’m sure in four years from now it’ll be even more realistic, and maybe it’d be like of course, it’s easy.
Ivan: Oh yeah, my daughter picked out a McLaren with pink trim. I told her [inaudible 00:49:30].
Daniel: That’s beautiful. I mean, that’s just… I really get a lot of hearing from people like you guys. It’s the personal aspect that’s changing. So I guess before we wrap up, I know you’ve given a lot of advice but is there anything you want to leave people with that are watching this video?
Ivan: I think I would say don’t lose your focus, don’t get distracted by irrelIvant things, and very importantly, believe in yourself. Believe in the system that you’re following. Don’t listen to the naysayers. Please, please don’t listen to the naysayers. You will have people who will say what are you doing, you’re crazy, don’t do this, why are you starting a business, just go focus on your job. It’ll even be your close friends and maybe close family. I’ll be honest, my wife said that to me. She doesn’t say that anymore, so hey, by all means be nice to these people but ignore them. Know what you’re focused on, know what you’re going for. Go for it, do it, believe in the system, believe in what Ryan and Daniel have taught you and just execute on it. The opportunity is there, it’s there for the taking. Just take it. There’s no reason… you deserve it, you should have it. That’s what I would like to leave people with.
Daniel: Awesome. Thank you, thank you.
Sasha: I would like to give one more piece of practical advice. Lots of people assume that education means after school you go to college and you get a diploma, so you spend four years or whatever amount of time and amount of money on that, and that should get you somewhere. I have had a change of mind over the last few years and I believe that is not necessarily the right thing for everyone to do. For some people it may be, but you should have a very clear picture of what your goal is and that might dictate very different kind of education that you need, because the world has changed and you can do so many things but they require different education. And it might be a huge waste of time and money to go to college and learn something that is not going to be right for you.
Sasha: It might be right for you. It depends on what you want to do, but if you want to be open minded and look at the world and see all the opportunities, the business that are out there, I believe it’s very different kind of education that a person would need for that. It might take a lot less time and a lot less money to get that and it might be a lot more useful and profitable and efficient to do that. And we’ve been talking with Ivan about our kids, that we are trying to very carefully instill that idea in their minds too. That they shouldn’t just assume, go to college and go that way. Think about what you want to do and think what education will get you there.
Daniel: That’s fantastic. That’s very well put because people talk about it this is, I think, the right way to think about it. For some people it might be right but if you want to, let’s just start a business, going to college or university might be a complete waste of time and money, right.
Ivan: Yeah, exactly. It may or may not be, again. Even if you want to start a business we’re not saying don’t go to college, forget it. But it’s acquired knowledge. Get educated. Just what we’re saying is there are just many ways of getting an education. College is just one of them. There are many of [inaudible 00:53:02].
Daniel: Yeah, and I’d like to think that the education you’ve received from Ryan and I for example has been more valuable than a lot of the things you would’ve learned at college or university.
Ivan: Honestly, I wish I had learned this when I was in college.
Ivan: Would have saved me a lot of time. I’m not saying that the knowledge I acquired in college was worthless, but frankly this would’ve been a lot more useful.
Daniel: Fantastic. I love it guys, you had a fantastic story and again, thanks so much for sharing it with everyone. I know people watching this will really appreciate it as much as I do so thanks guys.
Ivan: Oh, thank you for having us.
Sasha: Thank you.
Daniel: And best of luck moving forward. Hopefully we can do another one like this in two years or something and hear how things are going.
Ivan: I would love to. I would love to give you an update.
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