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PROSPER SHOW 2020: Keynote with Chad Rubin - Recording

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Yoni Mazor sits down with our CEO Chad Rubin, and dives into the story of how Chad found his way into eCommerce and became a successful entrepreneur. It is worth mentioning that Chad Rubin is actually one of the founders of the Prosper Show.

Watch the replay right here or read the transcript below:

Prosper Show-play button

 

Transcript

Yoni Mazor:

Hi everybody. Welcome. See everybody's starting to kick in. We'll come in. Hopefully Chad will be here soon as well. And once everybody's locked and loaded, we're gonna go live. Hey Chad.

Chad Rubin:

Hey Yoni.

Yoni Mazor:

Hey, nice to see you and nice job bruh.

Chad Rubin:

Hey, good to see you too. Nice.

Yoni Mazor:

Yeah. So, people are kicking in, so we'll give him another moment but once we kinda settle we're gonna start running this live on Facebook. Okay. Let's get another moment.

Chad Rubin:

Where are you dialing in from?

Yoni Mazor:

Teaneck, New Jersey.

Chad Rubin:

Okay. Not so far from me. I'm in Nyack.

Yoni Mazor:

You by the bridge. What's it called? Thorough Neck?

Chad Rubin:

Tappan Zee Bridge.

Yoni Mazor:

Tappan Zee, sorry. Yeah. Nice.

Chad Rubin:

Now it's called the Cuomo Bridge.

Yoni Mazor:

Really? They change the name?

Chad Rubin:

Yeah.

Yoni Mazor:

What's the name again?

Chad Rubin:

The Cuomo Bridge.

Yoni Mazor:

Cuomo the governor. But I think their father or grandfather used to be another governor.

Chad Rubin:

Yeah. He named after his father.

Yoni Mazor:

So they're like the Kennedy's of the state of New York. Right? So as big, the new Kennedy's.

Chad Rubin:

Something like that.

Yoni Mazor:

Okay. People settle in. Let's start the live broadcasts just give us a second. All right let's set this up. Just another moment. Right. Almost there. It's already live on Facebook even though we're just setting it up. There's usually a little lag. Let's see that.

Chad Rubin:

Let me go and light some incense to set the mood a little bit.

Yoni Mazor:

Yeah. Put some perfume and yeah. As long as you know your own story, we should be all right. Okay. So we are live on Facebook. Good. So listen we're gonna send this to post production but this is live recorded event later on is gonna go to post-production with our studio. So I'm gonna break it in and I'm gonna break it right now. Three, two, one. Welcome everybody to another episode of Prime Talk today I'm really excited to have, when I say a special guests this time I more than mean it, let me just read you a little bit of the credentials, we're having Chad Rubin, he's the co-founder and CEO of Skubana which is a cutting edge e-commerce management platform. Plus he's one of the founders of the Prosper show, which we are in right now. This is a part of the Prosper our virtual show. And he's the author of the book, "Cheaper Easier Direct" which really touches on how to disrupt the marketplace and create your own e-commerce empire. So Chad, welcome to the show.

Chad Rubin:

Hi, thanks for having me here.

Yoni Mazor:

Our pleasure. Today's episode is really gonna deal all about you. It's gonna be the Chad Rubin story. So you're gonna share with us, who are you? Where are you from? Your background? Where'd you grow up? Where'd you go to school? How'd you begin your professional career and without further ado, let's jump right into it.

Chad Rubin:

Yeah. So there's a lot there to unpack. So where should we start Yoni?

Yoni Mazor:

Where were you born? Where'd you grow up?

Chad Rubin:

I was born in Queens, New York City. My father owned a vacuum store.

Yoni Mazor:

What part of Queens if I can ask?

Chad Rubin:

I think on Rego park, Forest Hills

Yoni Mazor:

Rego park. Got it. Yeah.

Chad Rubin:

My father owned a vacuum store. My parents were second, they didn't even go to college, right? So essentially on my father's side they were all in the Holocaust. So they came here with nothing. And so honestly

Yoni Mazor:

Holocaust of which Poland or which area?

Chad Rubin:

Poland.

Yoni Mazor:

Got it. Wow. So, you know which year around, they came right after the war decades after?

Chad Rubin:

They came actually while the war was happening. So my father's mother was sent on a ship here when she was seven and started working in the factory floor in Canada while the rest of her siblings were deceased through the war. So they had no education. They worked in a factory, they were entrepreneurs. My father then was also an entrepreneur and it kind of has run in my family bloodline for quite a period of time. And that really lends itself into what I've been doing on the Amazon side to make this specific around the Prosper show on Amazon is that my parents had a vacuum store. And I don't know if those that are listening. When was the last time they've ever been to a vacuum store, but I took what I knew, what I was raised in, what I was brought up in and I modernized it. Right? I took it and made it a real-world application and we started, essentially first started reselling product on Amazon. This is by the way before there was 5 million sellers on Amazon.

Yoni Mazor:

Yeah. We're talking about like about a decade ago or more, right?

Chad Rubin:

Yeah. First generation Amazon seller. I was able to capitalize on that opportunity really quickly. And I started making books.

Yoni Mazor:

Let's backtrack. Gimme just one second. We were jumping into the good, the top of the game. So Rego park, Queens born and raised. And then you guys moved there settled or what was the transition?

Chad Rubin:

Yeah, so we moved to New Jersey when I was in third grade.

Yoni Mazor:

Which part?

Chad Rubin:

So we moved to an area called Westfield New Jersey.

Yoni Mazor:

Yeah, sure. Yeah. It's not too far from Edison I believe.

Chad Rubin:

No, 135 in the Parkway

Yoni Mazor:

I used to live there. So it just happened. My brother still live there. So I used to live with him when I first came to the America. Fresh off the boat. But yeah, so you grew up in New Jersey essentially from that point on now.

Chad Rubin:

Yeah. Grew up in New Jersey and was living in an area that we probably should've never been living in. My parents were never making ends meet barely making mortgage payments, but they wanted to raise me.

Yoni Mazor:

But they transitioned the store from Queens in New Jersey or they kept it in Queens.

Chad Rubin:

The store was always in New Jersey. My dad was doing the commute two hours each way. Every day which was hard on him.

Yoni Mazor:

Yeah, definitely. So what was the store in New Jersey?

Chad Rubin:

It was in Westfield.

Yoni Mazor:

Oh, okay. Got it. So let's say you'd had to guess married to the business and go run next door where the store is.

Chad Rubin:

Yep.

Yoni Mazor:

Makes sense. Okay good. So you finished high school there. What was the transition for you growing up?

Chad Rubin:

I finished high school there and then I was a first generation college graduate. So I went to UMass. I went to University of Massachusetts Amherst and I studied here.

Yoni Mazor:

What year was that? Which years did you go there?

Chad Rubin:

In 2000? Let's see. I graduated in 06. I graduated early. So 2003 to 2006.

Yoni Mazor:

Got it. 2003 off to Boston or area?

Chad Rubin:

2003 I went to Amherst.

Yoni Mazor:

Where was that?

Chad Rubin:

Amherst Massachusetts.

Yoni Mazor:

Massachusetts. Okay, good. So you stay there, you're on a essentially the dorms?

Chad Rubin:

Yeah. I stayed on the dorms.

Yoni Mazor:

You detached from New Jersey off on your own for three years.

Chad Rubin:

Yep. That's where I met my wife by the way, there we were college sweethearts and I graduated early because I was paying my way through college myself. So I wanted to just save every dollar I possibly can. So I stuffed all my curriculum into three years versus four years and I studied finance. So I studied the discipline of finance specifically to build expertise there because I felt like I was lacking in that I was deficient in that category growing up. And so for me, the dream was to go to wall street and get a job somewhere on wall street, which I did.

Yoni Mazor:

I asked so 2006, you graduated right into wall street. What was the transition?

Chad Rubin:

I graduated and I started working on wall street. I got a job as a very low level associate on wall street covering internet stocks specifically semiconductors

Yoni Mazor:

For which institution?

Chad Rubin:

Yeah. So initially I started off at a company called Thomas Weisel. So white shoe investment bank, they took Yahoo public and Symantec public. And then I jumped over to another company called Friedman Billings Ramsey. Did work there and put in time, learned a lot about business, a lot about profit and loss statements and balance sheets and cashflow statements, learned how to model and forecast. And then,

Yoni Mazor:

So you were working in New York city?

Chad Rubin:

In New York city, yep.

Yoni Mazor:

You were living there also?

Chad Rubin:

Yep, living on the upper West side and my wife then graduates in 2007. We move in together and I'm grinding on the street. So I'm working in the best times on wall street right before the great recession.

Yoni Mazor:

Oh yeah. 2008

Chad Rubin:

Yeah, 2008, 2009. I was eventually fired from my job 2009, February Friday the 13th, 2009

Yoni Mazor:

Whole meltdown. Yeah. I know of companies or banks like Lehman brothers more than a hundred years in business melted down. There's a shockwave throughout the system. And I guess that was part of the reason you got released.

Chad Rubin:

No, actually I survived three head cuts and my boss was let go. I went to Israel for some vacation and my boss was fired while I was on vacation. Not fired, it was like, Oh, it was a head count reduction. So I flew back from vacation early to re-interview with a new boss and me and this boss could not have been polar opposites. And I always believed in it's not about picking the companies picking who you work for, right? If that person believes in you and sees growth in you, they're gonna invest in you and want you to grow. I didn't have that dynamic with this specific individual. So he actually just let me go which is the best thing he could've done. And it opened up a huge door for me to start something new.

Yoni Mazor:

Yeah. As I say it from the little dips in life, it opens up a brand new track.

Chad Rubin:

When one door closes, another door opens.

Yoni Mazor:

Well yeah. So what happened? What was the next station?

Chad Rubin:

The next station. So I took all my stuff in a Brown box and I told my father, I told my father about it. He drove into the city. And by the way, right before I was just let go I was actually doing a little moonlighting. I was helping them resell their products on Amazon and eBay. I built them a website on my free time on collusion.

Yoni Mazor:

So this is where? During your college years or wall street years?

Chad Rubin:

No, during my wall street years, I was helping my parents on the side trying to help them stay afloat. I was actually sending them some credit. I was really pretty involved in their business but I was still working this full-time job. It wasn't the rainbow that I thought it would be. I dreamt it would be when I studied finance.

Yoni Mazor:

Got it.

Chad Rubin:

There wasn't any goal at the end of that rainbow.

Yoni Mazor:

Yeah. Just helping them modernize, make ends meet and maybe have a better position in their business and off your boat.

Chad Rubin:

Yeah. So I know I'm slowly taking everyone through this journey.

Yoni Mazor:

Yeah. That's exactly what we want. Yeah. This is exactly what we want. This is the nuance of how you are in this position that you are today.

Chad Rubin:

Yeah. And I haven't actually talked about this in a really long time. Like I'm like living through it by retelling the story of the events that happened.

Yoni Mazor:

Exactly the importance of it, we're throwing it on the couch and you got to air it out.

Chad Rubin:

Yeah. So my father came to pick me up from my job when I was fired. And we pulled up to my apartment. I lived on 78th street between Amsterdam and Columbus and we pull up and there's a school right there. And my father says, "see those kids," this is like the most profound thing I think I got from my father and see those kids. I said, "yeah," he's like, "they're free and so are you." And this opened up a creative opportunity for me to take advantage of what was happening in e-commerce and in 2009, like, it wasn't anything of what it's like now in 2020. And so I was okay I'll help you on the side. I'll help you a little bit. And then I started helping them and started becoming more and more and more and then,

Yoni Mazor:

You started commuting from the city to New Jersey? That was kind of the dynamic.

Chad Rubin:

The dynamic was my father was just doing the fulfillment. I was doing more and more or less the marketing and the strategy and the new product design and development. And then my father passes away.

Yoni Mazor:

Oh my goodness. I didn't realize

Yoni Mazor:

So, when was that?

Chad Rubin:

So my father passes away, My father passed away I believe in 2012.

Yoni Mazor:

So you're ready. What two years working together, that's point or 2000 got released or two to three years, you and your father and you making this happen. Was this sudden or this was an illness?

Chad Rubin:

It was pancreatic cancer. So it happened like really quickly. And by that point we already were initiating on a direct consumer strategy but very lightly. And we started going all the way in. So we started manufacturing at that point I was only focused on vacuum product.

Yoni Mazor:

Hold on. So for these three years your new commerce give us a little bit of the breakdown with just Amazon, just eBay, both, or your.com. What was the dynamic there?

Chad Rubin:

We first started, there was no FBA,

Yoni Mazor:

Right?

Chad Rubin:

So we're FBM. We were on Volusion and eBay simultaneously.

Yoni Mazor:

And Volusion if somebody from the audience and the recording hears this, I'm not sure how popular it is today. But back in the day to establish your a e-commerce store it was like almost like a Shopify of the old days.

Chad Rubin:

Yeah. And they recently went bankrupt. So Shopify really put a nail in their coffin and just like scale to far quicker than Volusion could.

Yoni Mazor:

Right. So essentially you have your.com your eBay, your Amazon three legs.

Chad Rubin:

Yes. So working on those three legs and eBay was still very prominent at the time. And Google people were still doing product searches on Google and finding items on Google. And so we were multichannel from the get-go. Like I've always set up the business to be multichannel because I do believe picking a channel or just I think choosing between between channels you don't have to, right? You can be everywhere if you want to.

Yoni Mazor:

A 100 percent

Chad Rubin:

It's not a zero sum game. It's not like I picked Amazon. I'm not going to be on eBay. I was like I just want to be everywhere people are on the journey.

Yoni Mazor:

A 100 percent. This is about the fiduciary duty for any retailer. Really your mission is as a retailer is to move products from A to B. B can be anywhere as long as you have an comfortable ability to do so, you have to. If something is gonna cost you a billion dollars just to open up a market, maybe you gotta reconsider. But today with the e-commerce really no excuse. You can really be almost at every e-commerce platform. So that's great. But what was the product you guys were selling yet? Well, you guys were reselling or was your own label or both.

Chad Rubin:

So initially we were reselling, we were dropshipping, we moved into our manufacturing home products. We started with one product and we started in one category which is vacuum filters, which is near and dear. I was selling vacuums when I was 11 years old like at my father's store helping out on the weekends and after school. So I knew the vacuum industry really well. And we started there and I also knew e-commerce really well. Cause actually when I was on wall street, I was actually my last gate. I was covering internet stocks. I was advising hedge funds and institutional investors to buy, sell or short various stocks in the e-commerce universe.

Yoni Mazor:

Well, interesting angle. You have the nuance of a niche, right? Vacuum cleaners, but the high level in a wall street, bird's view on what's going on.

Chad Rubin:

And when you can do that when you take a specialized expertise and something that you were raised with and combine it with something that you've now committed your career to and mold that together. I think that's an opportunity to capitalize on.

Yoni Mazor:

I call it, you become lethal. Yeah.

Chad Rubin:

Lethal. It's a nice opportunity. So let's see.

Yoni Mazor:

So in 2012 your father has passed and what was the next station there?

Chad Rubin:

The next station for me was moving into where we started really saturating the vacuum cleaner space. And I kept on looking over my shoulder. I'm like, Oh, there's gonna be some copycats. Like there's gonna be people that are gonna be out of my heels. They're gonna be taking, like coming and competing. There's not really a barrier to entry here. There's no mode, there's no competitive advantage.

Yoni Mazor:

Right.

Chad Rubin:

And I kept on looking over my shoulder nothing was there and I was okay, let's move into space though. Let's move into that product. Because like, if Apple came out the iPhone and never iterated on the iPhone Android would have surpassed it and there wouldn't be an iPhone today. So we had to keep moving. We had to keep generating the next new thing, product development, thinking about where the vision of the company is going. And we moved into coffee filters which is the next dearest thing to my heart. Now I actually recently quit caffeine which is kind of insane to think about. My identity was wrapped up in coffee and third wave coffee. And I was like, how do I take what I know about filters and make coffee filters with that? And we started doing that. So we moved into coffee

Yoni Mazor:

And this is what year? Well, this was already 2012 or?

Chad Rubin:

This was probably 2014, right. We'd be saturated the market and the vacuum space early with vacuum filters and bags, a lot of vacuum started going bagless. So we started making filters instead and we moved into hoses and rollers and then we moved into coffee.

Yoni Mazor:

And most of your revenue was your own brand or was it like 50-50?

Chad Rubin:

All our brand. We stopped doing any reselling.

Yoni Mazor:

Wow. So you completed detach reselling what around 2014 as well?

Chad Rubin:

By 2000, completely detached a 100 percent probably 13 or 14. Yeah.

Yoni Mazor:

Amazing, great evolution there. It's pretty impressive.

Chad Rubin:

Yeah. A great evolution and much needed, right? I knew that there was going to be disruption as a reseller. Right? The more points of the train that happened like Warby Parker had just occurred and Bonobos just had happened. Like everybody was cutting out the middleman and going direct. There was no need for a reseller in the picture.

Yoni Mazor:

Yup. I think that once again that's a bird's view why that you watched it kind of gave you, where you see what the things that are the parts are moving and you take action before it's too late or much before everybody else. And you always kind of a few steps out of the game.

Chad Rubin:

I wish. I mean, again, it looks rosy looking back on it. Now there's a lot of pitfalls. There's a lot of troughs that had happened in this adventure. Right? And so it's not always just lamb and glitz.

Yoni Mazor:

Oh yeah, It's when you hit a wall.

Chad Rubin:

Yeah. I hit so many walls in this process, whether it's fulfillment walls, right? Figuring out fulfillment strategies, whether it's being suspended on Amazon, whether it's getting sued because we were making replacement products to fit manufacturers vacuum cleaners and coffee makers units. There's so much that went into it that you wouldn't anticipate when you're first coming up with an idea or just being like, Hey, there's room for disruption here. There's a problem that needs to be solved. Let's attack it.

Yoni Mazor:

Got it. Wow. And all this until 2014, you experienced all that up to that point.

Chad Rubin:

Well, I mean that was consistent through my experience. I think business in general is a combination of highs and lows and you just gotta make sure you hang on for the ride.

Yoni Mazor:

Got it. Okay. So what transpired in 2014? What was the next session there?

Chad Rubin:

We outsourced my warehouse. We initially had a warehouse in Harlem. We then moved to little ferry.

Yoni Mazor:

Well, hold on. What was the Harlem? Just it seems too random to be true.

Chad Rubin:

Well, so I lived in on the upper West side and so first we were having boxes with a lift gate being dropped off in my apartment on the upper West side, my girlfriend at the time who's now my wife was like, "Hey, Chad, this is not gonna happen here. "You need to move this somewhere else." So I quickly found a storage unit with no windows on a second floor unit in Harlem in East Harlem, 120 first between second and third Avenue. That was an experience.

Yoni Mazor:

You got fulfillment center side in New York city. That's how it feels and looks like.

Chad Rubin:

As bad as it felt and looked like. I was hiring a high school laborers to come and do help and pick and pack in Harlem. And even on my way to the office I got mugged once.

Yoni Mazor:

Oh my goodness.

Chad Rubin:

Which is very interesting. So I had all these experiences I never had before. I'd never managed employees before, I never managed a warehouse before. We were growing so quickly that essentially when I first walked into that space, my father-in-law now who was born on the day my father died so fascinating. He kind of became a father to me and a mentor and a support for me. He was like, "Oh, this space is not so big." I was, "no, this space is huge." He's like, "don't worry you'll feel fit into it just fine." We fit into it just fine. We grew out of it. So we needed to move to New Jersey to another space in Little Ferry, New Jersey.

Yoni Mazor:

How quickly did you grow out of it?

Chad Rubin:

Within like a couple of months honestly.

Yoni Mazor:

Few months. Look at that. All right. So with Little Ferry across the river, across the Hudson, still not too far

Chad Rubin:

Not too far. So I was doing the commute to Little Fairy, managing a team of say 20 warehouse people doing pick and pack.

Yoni Mazor:

Yourself?

Chad Rubin:

I mean, I was helping them, right? If they didn't show to work, if they were high coming to work, right? I needed to send them home. I would be sometimes left unloading containers, smoking cigarettes and trying to figure out how I'm gonna do this all by myself

Yoni Mazor:

Clutching all over. Yeah.

Chad Rubin:

So a lot of grit. And then finally we had enough warehouse employee issues where we lost a warehouse manager. It was a lot of collusion happening and there was a lot of these employees were getting together and went on strike and all happened so quickly.

Yoni Mazor:

Tried to unionize it so quickly.

Chad Rubin:

Yeah. Started to unionize so quickly. And one of them I had fired. He actually drew some anti-Semitic things on some boxes in my warehouse. So I fired him. And as he left he'd stole the key, the key to go up and down with a forklift. And he took some other things. He took an iPad and then he called OSHA.

Yoni Mazor:

What's that?

Chad Rubin:

So OSHA is a compliance agency they make sure to protect the safety of warehouse employees or even just any workplace. And so we had OSHA compliance violations everywhere. We were growing so quickly there were boxes that were stacked high. There was extension cords that aren't supposed to be where they were. And they shut down my warehouse.

Yoni Mazor:

So what does that mean when that happens? That means that only family members can go and pick and pack boxes for you or pick and pack.

Chad Rubin:

Actually do the work. Yeah. Get the work done. Instead of 20 people the only ones you can bring is your immediate family.

Chad Rubin:

There was me, my wife, my father-in-law, my mother-in-law. And I was like, okay, this is just not working anymore. Right. There has to be a different way. And so it always comes to that crossing point is like, anytime you find a problem that is a wedge into an opportunity. And so we had this problem and I found a warehouse in New Jersey to solve this problem for me. And by this point by the way nobody was doing third-party logistics or 3PLs, nobody was outsourcing fulfillment. And I was afraid. I said to my wife, I said, "Hey, you know what? "This might eat up all of our margin. "We might actually not be at the same business "because of the cost associated with it."

Yoni Mazor:

Yeah. It was a huge X-Factor for you because it's infant nobody knows Amazon FBA liberal. What is he talking about? They have no clue, no concept of mind. And you have to break it in.

Chad Rubin:

Yep. So we actually had employees switch over to work for this company, this fulfillment company, and train them. They only last a couple of days because they were very strict about the hours that you work, when you come in, when your lunch break is, it's all driven based on a bell.

Yoni Mazor:

Right.

Chad Rubin:

And that's not what they came from with working at my company. My company was just like--

Yoni Mazor:

Bootstrap.

Chad Rubin:

It was bootstrap. You do what you want. There wasn't a lot of processes in place.

Yoni Mazor:

Right.

Chad Rubin:

So we outsource this weakness to the fulfillment center and that opened up a world of possibilities and opportunity.

Yoni Mazor:

It's great. So this is all in 2014, 2015.

Chad Rubin:

I think this happened in 2013

Yoni Mazor:

2013. Got it. Okay. When you say open up a world of opportunities, what was those kinds of stations??

Chad Rubin:

By getting rid of the warehouse fulfillment, I was needed to go into a warehouse anymore to pick and pack. So what does that mean? I can now use my efforts on higher impact activities, like marketing, new channel generation, new product development, all the things that I was really passionate about that I wasn't able to achieve with a warehouse.

Yoni Mazor:

Right. So your focus changed from operation just surviving and to growth. Let's do all the impactful things that generate tremendous growth and more opportunities. And 2013. When was the I guess the next station for you or the next evolution?

Chad Rubin:

Absolutely. While this was happening not only was I thinking about the warehouse piece and outsourcing that but I was thinking about the software piece and technology. I always knew technology as a competitive advantage. And so while this was happening, I was getting rid of this warehouse or having issues and outsourcing and thinking about the outsourcing of warehouses. I was thinking about, how do I run this business in a way that connects to the warehouse where I can automate a lot of low value repetitive tasks. And I was having a hard time finding a software that can handle my order volume. 'Cause we are doing very high order volumes.

Yoni Mazor:

How many units a month for example?

Chad Rubin:

We were doing at the time roughly about 50,000, 60,000 orders a month.

Yoni Mazor:

All right. And how many SKUs had you had in your catalog?

Chad Rubin:

At that time I don't know the snapshot. I can just tell you now we have about 1500 roughly, 1800.

Yoni Mazor:

SKUs Wow. That's a lot of variety. Got it. Yeah. It's crucial to have the right system in place for sure.

Chad Rubin:

And so we didn't have a system. Right. And so I always thought that you need to have like, there was all these like apps that you can kind of stitch together. But if you're using one piece of software for shipping and one piece of software for inventory and one piece of software for analytics, you've got a massive problem on your hands because none of them talk to each other and there's no common language to give you the intelligence to operate on. So I was like we need a unified operating system, which was then became Skubana. We started building Skubana out of my own pain and it was incepted or that it was born out of my own pain and started in 20. We started building in 2013, 2014.

Yoni Mazor:

the first lines of code 2013, 2014.

Chad Rubin:

DJ Definitely dropped the first line of code in 2013. And we officially went live in 2015.

Yoni Mazor:

So you're in the market live and well, 2015.

Chad Rubin:

Well live, in software they say you should always do a minimum viable product.

Yoni Mazor:

Yap. MVP.

Chad Rubin:

MVP. And the same thing with that when you're doing product development too, right. Even in commerce where you want to have an MVP. And I think that we did a massive viable product. There was stope creep that happened. We started expanding the scope of our product offering of what we wanted to achieve with our vision. And, but yeah, so we had a massive viable product in 2015 but still needed a lot more love and massaging to become a what's Skubana is today.

Yoni Mazor:

Oh, for sure. For sure. I mean the technology development it's a whole pain on its own. We can discuss that altogether in a different, I think it would probably share the same few pains as you scale up your technological infrastructure just takes a while but you mentioned DJ. You wanna give him a shout out to who DJ is.

Chad Rubin:

Yeah. Shout out to DJ. I mean, I'm a big fan of hiring people too. Not just hiring people. Like I partnered with DJ. He had the vision. I just actually initially I just wanted Skubana to be an inventory app. Right. I was like, I have an inventory issue. And DJ was like no, no, no, no, you have more than an inventory issue. Right? You need an operating system that puts it all together. And so it was DJ to give him a maximum amount of credit.

Yoni Mazor:

And what's his full name, DJ what?

Chad Rubin:

DJ Kunovac. They give him the full credit. He said you need to have order management and inventory together. So you can actually properly automate but also have the intelligence to run the business. You need to have a system. And without the order management piece you don't have a system you're just another app in the ecosystem. And that actually is a core tenant and a core competitive advantage that we have today.

Yoni Mazor:

Amazing. And how did you come across? What was the evolution there?

Chad Rubin:

A friend of mine from college introduced us. He was playing with tennis with DJ on the tennis court and mentioned I had this problem. We tried to solve it without DJ, just me and Ben. We couldn't solve it. We tried to solve in India. Couldn't solve it. DJ came in stroked everything out, did the requirements analysis.

Yoni Mazor:

But what's his background DJ, is he a developer?

Chad Rubin:

He was working at McKesson, which is a healthcare, one of the biggest healthcare companies in the United States. And he was actually doing the specific task of actually unifying hospital systems, different softwares.

Yoni Mazor:

You got lucky Chad. Really Lucky.

Chad Rubin:

I mean, it's a combination of luck. I think that's part of it right. Being at the right place at the right time, but also pursuing that luck. That is a big piece of life.

Yoni Mazor:

That's interesting though. What about the fact that you outreach, you went to your friends at this pain point, you share, you go out to the origin, this momentum generates itself. And then the kind of the solutions come together and the best talent and the best skills and the best opportunities to kind of open up without you realizing it at the moment. Obviously looking back, you can probably clearly identify that. So that's brilliant. So that's how you and DJ came together and quickly all the pains that you kind of had he was able to write into code to alleviate that but it seems to me, you kind of you guys compliment each other in terms of the ability to understand the scope of the proposition for the system going forward 'cause you focused kind of a European, but he has the ability to open up the scope a bit more.

Chad Rubin:

All right he was the builder and I was the seller like I've always been on the sales marketing side and he's been on engineering side and that's the division of work and the division of labor that carries out to today.

Yoni Mazor:

Yeah. It's a little bit interesting, just full disclosure I'm the COO one of the co-founders of Getida. I at this point I find myself as I was kind of the face and I know putting the sales and marketing, well, my co-founder Max. Max Born he's right now really hard on the tech side on the development side and making sure that the production and the product itself is superior and top of the line. So same dynamics I kind of feel. And I think it's an interesting combination that hopefully I think for us, it makes us more lethal. I hope so for Skubana to be the same.

Chad Rubin:

Oh yeah, for sure.

Yoni Mazor:

So 2015, you guys launched and take us to the next station. What else happened?

Chad Rubin:

Well, 2015.

Yoni Mazor:

I guess let's lay down two tracks, right? Lays down we got the regular retail what I assume you're still in today, right? That's kind of a two tracks you're writing. The second track is Skubana. So let's dive into Skubana well, we can maybe touch base on the retail side afterwards.

Chad Rubin:

So it was with Skubana that I was able to automate most of those activities and Crucial now has one employee in the United States, Kristen, and everything else is largely automated with Skubana on the operation side. So switching gears back to Skubana we raised money. One of our early investors was James Thompson.

Yoni Mazor:

No kidding. From one of the co-founders of the prosper show by boxer legends.

Chad Rubin:

Yeah. Him and Johanson really were at the forefront of prosper. And I invited James, James is my FBA account manager back in the day.

Yoni Mazor:

Oh. At Amazon when he was working at Amazon. Got it. Oh, nice.

Chad Rubin:

So we kept in touch. And I share with him what I was building and he came into investments Skubana, and then I came into invest in prosper show. So again, it goes bowed down. It comes down to relationships and keeping those relationships warm over the course of time because you never know where they're gonna take you.

Yoni Mazor:

Absolutely. And which year did you guys create the prosper show?

Chad Rubin:

2000. I wanna say it was 2016?

Yoni Mazor:

I think so. Yeah. The first show was at Utah then in Las Vegas became a really a sensational success. And then I think a year ago or so got bought out by Emerald which is a public company, which they host a variety of trade shows. That's kind of their strength and their core competency. So everybody kind of I guess did an exit there. But once I got done on the truck--

Chad Rubin:

James is the brainchild, he's the mastermind behind prosper show. Like, again I'm all about giving people credit where it's due and it really was James' vision. That was attitude in such an eloquent manner. I don't know anybody else that could have done it in the timeframe that he did it.

Yoni Mazor:

And this is to remind everybody, these are people that running in multi-million dollar organizations feel for their own retail activities like Chad, plus Chad had the Skubana and James Thompson, once again ex Amazon employee but create a massive agency or a cutting-edge top of the line, but he says, what else can be done and what especially what else could be done for this community or for this industry. And that's why they could conceive that the trade show of prosper. And I do believe, truly believe that for thousands of sellers that came over through the years they were able to do better business because of the structure this body. And once again, it takes that vision and that will and that trust, so even though you're successful running big organizations what else can be done? That's that entrepreneurial bug but also creating value for others which is something to admire and pay attention to. Okay. So you're also part of a prosper but you said James and,

Chad Rubin:

And Joe, it was really James. I think Joe, is big part of buybacks experts. They merged companies. And so prosper was happening. I wrote a book. Amazon was now on the, essentially it was a gold rush into Amazon at the time. Right? So timing was also really impeccable. Skubana obviously has a lot of Amazon centricity built into the platform even though we are agnostic we're D2C, we initially started off supporting just a lot of Amazon merchants. And we've shifted from just supporting Amazon merchants to supporting brands that embrace Amazon as a channel not just a business.

Yoni Mazor:

So important, it's easy to get trapped in saying, Hey, this is such a fueling environment, the Amazon ecosystem which is truly is but if somebody is an entrepreneur out there in the e-commerce space game it's probably best to be advised that really your chances of survival long-term as if you really build a viable brand for yourself. And that brand is pretty much everywhere in e-commerce, and of course if you can create arms and legs and brick and mortar, even though today is more challenging than ever before, it's never a bad thing. You never know where are you gonna get to? And once again the fiduciary duty of anybody in trade that was trying to sell products for me to be rich, reach as many markets as you can. And the way to do a best is when you have a brand when instantly you get recognized you get preferred, you have a mode a business mode between brand A and brand B. And this is kind of what Skubana I believe is trying to facilitate on a very large scale for D2C brands, D2C brands who recognize this opportunity.

Chad Rubin:

Yeah. I do wanna say that we've migrated from just talking about D2C direct consumer selling to actually direct to everywhere. So it's not just D2C more. What you're seeing is a lot of these digitally native brands that initially were created and grew up just selling direct consumer with a Shopify site are now selling wholesale. They're selling brick and mortar. They have a pop-up shop. There's so many different avenues that they're starting to embrace right now. And that's really the landscape that's Skubana plays in pretty heavily.

Yoni Mazor:

you guys actually laid the tracks for wholesale as well on the platform?

Chad Rubin:

Yep. So just like Shopify we have an app store and you can click a button and you can integrate to all your EDI providers. We have four that we support on the platform. You can do everything through the apps or it just allows you to add strength to our platform with the click of a button.

Yoni Mazor:

That was great. I was not aware of, there we go. You guys want to second that vision. Once again, it goes back to the core fiduciary duty of a retailer or somebody in trade reach everywhere as much as possible. E-commerce space is a great place to start especially the Amazon. But once you get in, and once you become a brand a really viable Brown, you have a business mode then a brick and mortar is definitely a viable opportunity to still, at least not in the United States, 85% of the trade. So obviously there's opportunity there. If you guys facilitate that, that's a blessed thing. Okay. So talk to us about, I guess challenges with Skubana. I know over the years you guys are ready for five six years. What was the school you started you and DJ, and where are you guys today in terms of where you guys located and how many people on the team?

Chad Rubin:

We're about 33, 34 people, we are now officially remote not just because of COVID, but we're actually going to be remote forward with like hot seats available. Once people are more comfortable going back into the office.

Yoni Mazor:

So the office is where New York city?

Chad Rubin:

The office was New York city we closed it.

Yoni Mazor:

Was it actually in New Jersey?

Chad Rubin:

I was in New York 18th, between fifth and sixth.

Yoni Mazor:

Yeah. 'Cause a town called West New York in New Jersey across the river. I don't know if you know.

Chad Rubin:

Oh yeah. I do know West New York, it's naturally in the Flat Iron district. That's where it was. And now we're fully remote. I mean we had everybody in New York City now there's 10 people left from what I've counted in the metropolitan area.

Yoni Mazor:

You got it. Oh, so everybody really spread out physically where would they live now?

Chad Rubin:

People moved, people left, people fled. People are living back with their family. They're running their life in a very different way during COVID right now.

Yoni Mazor:

Got it. But I probably bet that even though this all happened on a physical scale on the business scale I think you guys probably saw a great push. Customers are more and more customers coming your away because that urgent need to be in e-commerce or at least scale that up.

Chad Rubin:

Well, there's been billions of dollars that have been shifted from offline retail to online retail and Skubana was started as a direct consumer platform. And on top of that, just to add a little flavor of Amazon into it as FBA has been putting restrictions on a lot of brands and merchants especially during COVID and even right now during the fourth quarter, they needed a new strategy and they needed Skubana to help them execute on their fulfilled by merchant strategy. And we allow them to get that set up in no time.

Yoni Mazor:

What to the sellers of Amazon or both?

Chad Rubin:

Well, they can connect to Amazon real quick and then they can also connect to their warehouses or create their own warehouse in Skubana and literally run a technology lights Skubana for a fraction of the cost of like an enterprise software that'll give you the same kind of experience like Amazon hitting Amazon shipping benchmarks without by paying through the nose for it.

Yoni Mazor:

And what about SFP? You guys were able to facilitate for your leading client?

Chad Rubin:

Of course we support SFP multi-channel fulfillment which is shipping from Amazon FBA off channel to your customer.

Yoni Mazor:

Right?

Chad Rubin:

Both FBM, FBA and drop shipping and three PL integrations all of that simultaneously all in one platform all in the cloud which was unheard of back in the day.

Yoni Mazor:

Yeah. There's a lifesaver, if you had the clients have this opportunity to ability to get all these great components, SFU which is a seller fulfilled prime you really have to have the matrix that, it's really rigid. And if you guys facilitate that, it's great. And from Amazon to other marketplaces that let's say you sold on your website or an eBay and Amazon ship said, Oh, you guys facilitate that help with all the tracking and the revenue. And I would assume also the profit and loss and reporting.

Chad Rubin:

Yep.

Yoni Mazor:

That's great. And so 2020 are you find yourself, although with all the physical challenges of COVID at a growth momentum, try to say?

Chad Rubin:

We've been a beneficiary of COVID as really painful to say that because of the circumstance and the backdrop of what's happening in the country, but we've definitely benefited because of the shift in our space.

Yoni Mazor:

Got it. Okay. Very good. And how about the retail? And more consumers were buying coffee filters and a vacuum cleaner filters. You're still in the vacuum business or?

Chad Rubin:

Yeah. We're still in that business still in the entire home appliance parts business. And again, due to COVID actually a funny thing. So we started noticing a lot of people were buying our HEPA bags and I had no idea why, a HEPA bag is a high efficiency, particulate arrest vacuum bag that essentially is made of the same stuff that KN95 master made out for face coverings.

Yoni Mazor:

On us.

Chad Rubin:

Yeah. And we started noticing people were buying these bags and I had no idea why. So I'm taking a shower one day,

Yoni Mazor:

But when did you see the uptake January or February?

Chad Rubin:

No, it was March. It was like mid March, March 18th or something. I had this epiphany in the shower. Most epiphanies, right? Happen in the shower.

Yoni Mazor:

Do you sing though, or you're a singer now?

Chad Rubin:

I'm not a singer in the shower. I just sit there and I like brushed my teeth aimlessly and I get into like, just like zone that I can't get out of. And I'm like my mind is spinning and I'm like, Oh my gosh, wait a minute. Our vacuum bags are the same thing that's made up in KN95 mask. And there's a shortage in Rockland County, which is where I live in the hospitals where they need PPE protection. This is before everyone got on the PPP wave.

Chad Rubin:

Well, okay. So I made a donation to the hospital, to the frontline workers of a massive quantity of these bags.

Yoni Mazor:

So you had an in-stock available in the area?

Chad Rubin:

In stock in New Jersey in the area made a donation super thankful. Like the head of the head of director of the hospital reached out. But on top of that it actually hit the news.

Yoni Mazor:

Oh.

Chad Rubin:

So somebody that was super early on in this PPE making masks, they changed their entire factory from making aprons to making masks. The company's called Hedley and Bennett. We formed a partnership where they make the mask and we sell the filter media that goes in the mask cause they have a pocket for the media and it was a win-win for both companies.

Yoni Mazor:

So essentially you became a supplier to them.

Chad Rubin:

They were guiding people to go to our website. Now if I was never off of Amazon or if I was ever multi-channel or hadn't had invested and had the foresight of investing into our own brand into our own website, this would have never come about. Right? In fact it would have never come about if I hadn't made a donation, right?

Yoni Mazor:

Let me get the context. So you did a donation that opened up to immediate attention and then the opportunity presented itself because of that media attention.

Chad Rubin:

Well, it was a combination of media attention and employees at Skubana saw what was happening. We had somehow had conversations with Hedley and Bennett in the past at Skubana. We did a dinner together and then one thing led to another. We formed a joint venture partner.

Yoni Mazor:

Beautiful, brilliant, unbelievable.

Chad Rubin:

We've, I mean it's been a fruitful relationship and we're now in our third wave, we used to just sell the vacuum bags and people were cutting it themselves and people didn't wanna cut themselves. They wanted it to be precast. So then we hired a factory in the United States to do some cutting for us. Now we're officially making a whole phase three design of the product which is the packaging and everything pre made and enclosed for our customer base.

Yoni Mazor:

Got it. And how do you find yourself managing I guess at this point all these activities. I mean, how was your day look like, share with us a little bit. I know it, congratulations. You had a baby born recently so congratulations for that.

Chad Rubin:

15 month old. And that has been a shift in priorities for me and a shift in identity too. I always identifying being an entrepreneur for me it was like that was it. Right. My group of friends are entrepreneurs and everything revolved around that. And now I've shifted into being a father.

Yoni Mazor:

So how do you balance all that? Right?

Chad Rubin:

Yeah. So routine I think it comes down to literally habits and routine. I used to go to on Instagram a little more. I found myself not feeling good about Instagram or Facebook. I watched social social dilemma. And so I'm in a routine, right? I wake up early. I spend that time with my son. We have breakfast together every morning.

Yoni Mazor:

Right.

Chad Rubin:

We play, we walk, we crawl, we climb, we read. And then I get into my day and I go straight through back to back and I try to be as efficient with my time as possible. And making sure that I say no to as many activities that aren't going to be high impact to any of the things that I'm pursuing.

Yoni Mazor:

Yeah. So I'll take it as a compliment. Thank you for I guess taking the time today to do this.

Chad Rubin:

I'm very grateful for you having me on.

Yoni Mazor:

So sure. Our pleasure it's a real privilege. Okay. So I think it was a big lesson. So how do you identify the things that is gonna be less impactful where you can say no, thank you. Or let's do this later on. And then you prioritize and then you have a team that helps you with that or is it just you pop into emails and right away you know what to say no to what's the demand dynamics there.

Chad Rubin:

So we have some canned responses and email for no. And then I take a look at my calendar to see like what's happening on the weekly basis to see where can I optimize my time. There's things that I love doing. There's things that I hate doing. There's things I hate doing but I need to do you have to do it. Yeah. And there's things that I love doing that I never have time to do. And so finding a nice balance and a lot of that comes down to process and speaking up, right. Being candid with the team saying like Hey, like I don't need to maybe go on like 20 million webinars this quarter, let's pick and choose the webinars that are gonna be the most high impact for the company and prioritize those. So establishing a criteria around that. And by the way it's criteria around my entire life. Right. And so what are things that I should be doing that I'm not doing? What are the things that I'm doing that I hate doing and being able to categorize and classify those items in a way that's meaningful and supports and honors where I wanna be in life.

Yoni Mazor:

Got it. And did you try to trickle this into your organizations? Or is this something that you take on your own and you don't try to impose on any other, what's kind of the dynamics there inside the organization because they're all remote but you have to somehow distill that.

Chad Rubin:

Yeah. I mean, I you've got Gina Junior. I see her here and with Gina, she's so talented on the marketing team that I'm always thinking like how can we leverage her more? Right. And what are the things that she's doing that's eating up her time that we could be using and going like spear fishing, finding somebody that does that task does it really well and could alleviate you so that you can make the biggest impact on the company and we're doing that cross department. Right. So I think this is cross pollinated. I think this goes back to actually when you're building a company, it's a largely a reflection of who you are, the systems that you have in place and the people that you have in place and who you're hiring and firing and who you're bringing into the family is a large part of the success in the DNA of the company itself.

Yoni Mazor:

A 100 percent. And how DJ fit into all everything right now? Where's he located at this point?

Chad Rubin:

Well DJ Actually. So he's moved from New York to Georgia.

Yoni Mazor:

Where Georgia he is from, that's where he is from?

Chad Rubin:

Yep. Georgia. I believe he's living in Atlanta now.

Yoni Mazor:

Got it.

Chad Rubin:

And he actually is just coming off of a three week I think it was a three week. Maybe it was longer. He's always had a bucket list item to go across country. So he went roof camping with his car cross country and is now actually just arrived back into Atlanta last night.

Yoni Mazor:

Nice. Did he happen to go to Emory or no?

Chad Rubin:

He didn't go to Emory. No, I think he went to a state school in Georgia.

Yoni Mazor:

Got it.

Chad Rubin:

He grew up in Atlanta also or some somewhere in there. Grew up in Atlanta. Yeah. But he's originally a Croatian.

Yoni Mazor:

Oh, got it. So he was born and raised in Croatia.

Chad Rubin:

He was definitely born and raised there. And then he moved over to the United States, I think in his early teens.

Yoni Mazor:

Got it. All right. So yeah, I connect to what you said with I guess the organization is a reflection of you, hopefully the positive things of you, you take the best thing that you have to offer the best values, work on the ones that you can do some more work.

Chad Rubin:

I do wanna say, just to add a comment to that is like it also has the worst things too. Right. And it's important and that's why if you're hiring the right people at the company. You wanna hire somebody that you admire that can elevate and raise the game of your current team or department or company. So it's not a reflection of all your fallacies or your flaws.

Yoni Mazor:

Yeah. So once again, we try to distill the good, share that along but recognize the ones you have weaknesses and make sure those weaknesses are not underneath you with the team as it trickles down. And they have those strengths. And then altogether everybody raises together and the whole value proposition for customers. The solution that you guys are creating, the experience that you guys are creating it's all so positive. And so unreached, it takes a real team effort. No one person that can create that. It's an ecosystem that you create that every touch point it gets to consumers or wherever as a user is gets that experience. And hopefully that makes you thrive for longterm and create a long-term success. Beautiful, Chad, it's great so far. I mean your story, thank you so much for sharing it. I had an amazing experience that have running all around. It seems like you were able at some point, I'm not sure exactly when what to move from the city to Nyack Westbound.

Chad Rubin:

I live in Nyack now.

Yoni Mazor:

What was that trigger there? I wonder you moved before the pandemic, right?

Chad Rubin:

Yeah. We have been here for five years and I just wanted more space, countryside, hiking, the fresh air.

Yoni Mazor:

That's great. Thank you for sharing this story so far. So we're gonna put things to a close. So essentially it's gonna be two things we're gonna close with. The first thing is if people are looking to reach out to you or to Skubana or to get some filters where can they find you guys? And the second thing will be what is gonna be a message of hope and inspiration for an expression for entrepreneurs listening out there.

Chad Rubin:

All right. So the first one would be to find me my personal email address is chad@skubana.com. If you're in the market for technology to automate and run your business, of course check us out or send me an email I'll happy to help you in your journey. Also if you need filters you can check out thinkcrucial.com. If you're interested in more of my story, you can check out the book "Cheaper Easier Direct" of course it's found on Amazon. And in terms of inspiration.

Yoni Mazor:

It takes a lot, but the now let's wrap it whatever's on your mind, lets freestyle it.

Chad Rubin:

I think that there's always an opportunity. I think there's opportunities everywhere, right? And a lot of those opportunities could be resource distractions. And especially if you're doing things under the auspice of making money, if you're truly passionate and your work becomes essentially you're integrating your work into your life where it becomes an extension of you and it becomes your hobby. I think that's really powerful because when other people see me working, they think I'm working but I'm actually having fun. I'm doing my hobby. And so I think you shouldn't really think with that mindset of, okay, well, I don't want to do this for money. This is actually something that I'm super into that I can dedicate my life to. So for me, I've kept very focused on e-commerce specifically for a good reason. I'm playing long-term games with long-term people, that are in my community, that are in my network and opportunities from all the time outside of that. And I really just want to double down in that. So if I can encourage other people right now, go after what you're passionate about and what you know about double down on that. And I promise if you're making other people happy in the process you're gonna have a positive outcome for you and your family

Yoni Mazor:

A 100 percent agreed. Fantastic. All right. Thanks. And you know, Chad, once again, thank you so much for taking the time sharing your story. I found it fascinating. I wish we had more time. Maybe we can do it as a sequel at some point, but until then I wish you a much more tremendous success for you and the whole Skubana team and the Think Crucial team. And stay safe and healthy over there. Nyack, not too far from me. Hopefully we'll meet once the pandemic we're down a little bit, but yeah.

Chad Rubin:

Yeah. I also want to just express gratitude for walking me through memory lane and almost allowing me to relive the adventure that I very rarely reflect on because I'm so focused on the future.

Yoni Mazor:

There we go look into the past. I do believe it creates some sort of ventilation and it's empowers the self and into the future as well. So hopefully you can take that energy forward. Thank you again everybody for joining through with us today, stay safe and healthy until next time.

Yoni Mazor:

All right. So the live is off of Facebook, I'm going to shut the recording down.

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