In today’s world, filled with internet entrepreneurs and experts vying for attention in a cluttered online space, there is a prevailing trend of each person speaking louder than the next. The resulting cacophony is enough to leave anyone confused and disheartened.
Greg Mercer and his team
Greg Mercer and his team
However, Greg Mercer , 28, and founder of Amazon product research software Jungle Scout, has taken a different approach. Harkening back to Teddy Roosevelt’s urging to “speak softly and carry a big stick,” Mercer has put his money where his mouth is, so to speak. In a unique take on an extended case study, Mercer decided to start a company with two main objectives: teach people how to successfully launch a business and donate all profits to a good cause.
The Maryland native is a seasoned ecommerce entrepreneur himself. He understands firsthand the challenges of starting, and scaling, a business. However, more importantly, he also knew the blueprint that has allowed him to launch numerous ecommerce brands to repeated and predictable success.
“People would constantly ask for my advice on what type of product to sell or business to start. I realized that I could help a lot more people if I shared the whole story with everyone, in real time. Why not launch a business and share all of the juicy details that people don’t often share?”
His stroke of inspiration would follow soon afterwards. Instead of just helping others by sharing the details of his business, why not extend the good will and share the profits with people in need? The plan was formed: launch a business selling a product on Amazon, cover all the details on his blog, and donate the profits to a charity.
Here are five lessons Mercer learned from his unique approach in his business case study:
1. Share ownership.
People love having a front-row seat to the action. The only thing they love more than that is being in the action themselves. Mercer brought in his Jungle Scout audience to drive the process and help make key decisions along the way. This is why he has called the case study, the “Collaborative Product Launch.”
He gained inspiration from the excitement that his audience shared for the project. The audience’s excitement increased even more when they had a hand in shaping the future of the business. The product that he sells? It was named Jungle Stix (which are bamboo marshmallow sticks), at the suggestion of the crowd. And the charity to receive the donation, Doctors Without Borders, was also chosen in a poll by the crowd.
Sharing ownership of the project allowed the audience to get behind the project with fervor, and then talk about it online. Mercer says he felt inspired by the growing support and enthusiasm, which helped drive the company to more than $18k in profits in 6 months.
2. Full transparency.
When the case study started, Mercer committed to sharing all details of the business, from its very inception to the P&L Statement, along with all the bumps in between. In the cutthroat competition of Amazon sellers, such transparency is unheard of, which is exactly why this case study became so popular.
Mercer says, “I think people appreciated how I chose to share the whole process online. It was instructive for them to see, but also inspiring to see how possible it is to launch a thriving business when you follow the right process.”
Watching video replays of his case study, it is easy to see how a viewer can get sucked into watching a business being born in real time. The over-the-shoulder screen shares and his explanations of strategy and tactics are like having a seasoned mentor sit next to you guiding you through each stage. This accessibility is invaluable.
The level of transparency is indeed unprecedented, but will hopefully be the start of a trend for other businesses to follow suit.
Mercer believes that the process of launching a business, especially an Amazon-based business, is repeatable and scalable. And he has the track record to back up such confidence.
While many newcomers are bogged down by self-doubt and uncertainty, he has chosen to focus on the fundamentals when launching his business.
Mercer’s company, Jungle Scout, helps individuals and businesses tackle the first step in Amazon selling: finding a good product to sell. This initial stage of product research is what he believes is the most important factor to success.
Following his own blueprint, which he reveals repeatedly in his case study, Mercer diligently found a promising (and obscure) product: marshmallow sticks. He came upon the idea while using his formula for identifying promising products, as well as a little help with the software that he created.
But the secret sauce for him, and any entrepreneur, is in the execution. Making a plan, and sticking with it. This is the one takeaway he hopes to instill: making progress, even if it is less than ideal, is the priority.
4. Add value.
The driving force behind the whole case study and fundraising was simple: to add value. Show the process of launching a business successfully. Raise money for a good cause.
Mercer aims to inspire people to take control of their own futures, and each of these goals is defined by helping to improve others’ daily lives.
From observing the journey in retrospect, I feel that I have been greatly inspired by seeing what is possible through hard work and dedication. I have seen more businesses that incorporate a social mission into the company DNA, but the effect is multiplied when thousands of others are inspired to replicate and pass forward the good will.
e an Amazon top seller and his donation check to Doctors Without Borders increases in size.
But you won’t hear it from him. In true Teddy Roosevelt fashion, he speaks softly, yet carries a big teacher’s stick that will instruct and inspire a legion of entrepreneurs.