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Q&A: This Amazon Entrepreneur Started A $1.2M Dropshipping Store. Here’s How He Did It (And How You Can, Too)

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The pandemic’s been tough on everyone, crippling economies and leaving the world in disarray. However. It’s also forced mass pivots, mass adaptation, leading to more mass opportunity. 

One of the ones who’s actually been able to keep his business afloat is Andrew Loucks—AKA the Manimal (what an epic name, just for the record)—who runs a seven-figure dropshipping store on Amazon.

Obviously, as people stayed in the house, online shopping (i.e. Amazon!) has gone up. In fact, Amazon recently became the first company to be valued at over $2 trillion dollars.

Yes, we know what you’re thinking…

Amazon dropshipping is one of those scammy get-rich-quick setups those YouTube hucksters peddle in their ads, doing little else but syphon cash from eager wantrepreneurs.

In reality, however (and you know we don’t interview pretenders ‘round these here parts!), there’s always a reality from which these dreamy plots are concocted.  

And one of the real ones is the Manimal who legitimately teaches people how to dropship on Amazon. He also is a bodybuilding BEAST and has a super strong Instagram following.

So we had a chat with him about how to get that set up.

To people who don’t know you, what do you do and what are your biggest accomplishments?

I am a seven-figure Amazon seller in the e-commerce business. I started my own Amazon Dropshipping business a year and a half ago and have done over $1.2M sales on my seller account. My store does over $150k sales per month. Now, I mentor and teach other people how to set up their own six or seven-figure Amazon dropshipping stores.

This pandemic has seen lots of chaos in the public markets. Did you invest during the pandemic—and if so, where?

I have been consistently investing into getting more funding for my Amazon store, the stock market, and researching real estate to reinvest some of my profit from Amazon dropshipping.

How has it affected business? Tell us a bit about Manimal and MegaFit Meals!

The great things about selling on Amazon is that it’s a market that will continue to get sales no matter what the economic conditions are. When the pandemic hit, I wasn’t worried about keeping my job, or worrying about getting a paycheck to pay the bills. I had my Amazon store running 24/7 getting sales, and direct deposits coming in every two weeks. 

Love that. Passive income all day.

Exactly. My profit margins and store sales actually increased during the pandemic. People were ordering even more products online that usual! 

People are shopping from home. Unlike physical retail where people have to manage a store, I assume it’s easier to run a digital store?

One of the biggest benefits about my Amazon store is that it doesn’t require any of my time to run or manage. I have it automated, which means everything is managed for me. 

Explain. 

A team handles all the product research, listings, shipping, returns and even the customer service. I did months of research before getting into the business, which gave me the knowledge to not only set up my own store, but to help others set up their own as well. 

How does it work this dropshipping thing?

Throughout the past year and a half in the e-commerce business, I have gained a lot of experience. Mostly through trial and error, but also through my own successes and failures. I am continuing to learn more every day as I’m helping new sellers get started with stores of their own. Just shoot me a message on Instagram and I will show you how my store works, what profit margins to expect, and what you’ll need to get started with your own.

 

There are tons of parallel correlations between health and wealth, especially from a discipline standpoint. Do you find your athletic background gives you an advantage in life, business and so on?

Health is wealth! But yes, absolutely. Being healthy and having a routine will teach you how to develop the dedication and drive you’ll need to become successful with anything. Taking care of your body is just as important as taking care of your mind. Keeping both sharp will take you far in life. Having the discipline to stick to a workout and meal routine for months or even years, has given me the dedicated mindset that I have today. 

I always say that pro sports, fitness and military are the best preparers for business success. Just because of the commitment and discipline both require.

If you are willing to put in the time to build and change your body’s appearance, then you can do anything. Fitness has given me a platform on social media to share my business ventures with others. Not only am I able to share my workout routines, meal prepping, and other fitness tips, but I’m also able to help others make a living and start their own businesses.  

Switching gears slightly to fitness. What are some basic pointers you give people that come to you asking how to get in shape?

Make sure to get your nutrition right. That’s the most important factor with any fitness training program. Depending on your goals, your training and diet will vary. Lift heavy, train often, and get your protein in.

We now live in a digital world, increasingly virtual, especially because of the pandemic. Do you use social media assets professionally?

Yes, I use my Instagram and Facebook pages. Mainly my Instagram, which is where I post most of my fitness and business-related content.

What’s next for your industry? Will we return to normal or has that ship sailed?

I keep hearing phrases like “the new normal”, but honestly it’s hard to tell where the economy will go from here. However, in my industry, I’m not worried. The good news about investing into the Amazon dropshipping business model is that it’s continuing to grow. That’s one of the main reasons why I invested in this business and recommend it to others. 

Love that. I think now more than ever it’s important to have recession-proof business models.

Right. Even if the economy continues to stay on the same path it has been on for the past five months, that has only increased my store’s sales and profit margins for my business. I’m all for reopening society and all the businesses. But when we’re talking about investing money, I know I would rather invest into a business model that will succeed in all economic conditions, even during a global pandemic. 

I’m a real estate guy. Residential is cool but office, hospitality and retail asset classes are suffering. And you’re gonna see a bloodbath here that won’t end anytime soon.

Unlike traditional retail with bricks and mortar stores, e-commerce businesses aren’t confined to walk-in person traffic. People are always buying things on Amazon, regardless of what’s going on in the world. This business has been one of the best investments I have made so far.

Entrepreneurs

5 Money-Making Gems From ‘The Budgetnista’ Tiffany Aliche

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When it comes to money, you name it, she’s done it. 

From buying her first house at 25, a growing retirement account, a healthy nest egg in savings. To losing it all—almost overnight—once the Great Recession hit.
(And a financial scam that left her with $35K in credit card debt, just for good measure.)

However, a decade later, “America’s Favorite Financial Teacher” Tiffany Aliche has come full circle. 

A bonafide money master, Tiffany’s become one of the best-known financial experts in the country, racking up media hits—from CNBC to Good Morning America—like zeroes on her bank account.

More importantly, through her company The Budgetnista and the Live Richer Academy, her online school, Tiffany’s helped almost 1M women save over $100M and pay off $75M in debt.  

Now that we’re effectively in another recession, here are five gems from The Budgetnista on how to handle money. 

Tiffany “The Budgetnista” Aliche. thebudgetnista.com

1) The importance of being cash strong…

“Debt-free does not equal wealth. First things first, in a recession, you want to be cash strong. Normally I’m like, get really aggressive with paying down your debt. That’s great, but if you don’t have savings, and you’re debt-free, and an emergency comes up, you’re going to use debt to help you do that emergency.”

2) Budgeting during pandemic…

“Number two: I would say your budget is gonna be your best friend at this moment in time. We’ve always been talking about living below your means and leaning into frugality, at least to some extent. And now, more than ever, that needs to happen.”

3) Prioritize your bills…

The most important step you can take if you’re worried about your income is to prioritize what you’re spending on, Tiffany told CNBC Make It. 

To figure out which bills and expenses to pay first and which to delay, Tiffany recommends asking yourself two questions: 

“ If I don’t make this payment, will I be unhealthy? If I don’t make this payment, will I be unsafe? If the answer is yes to either of those, pay that bill as best as you can. 

“If you haven’t already, look into many of the assistance and payment deferment programs that utility companies, cell phone providers, lenders and landlords may be offering.”  

4) Recessions make millionaires…

“I would lean into learning how to invest. The last recession caught me unaware. I was a pre-school teacher at the time and I lost my job and I lost my home that I bought for $220K. 

“It ended up being sold for $150K. I wish I had been in the position then to invest, but I didn’t have the knowledge, the acumen or the money. 

“I told myself, ‘I’m not going to be in that position again,’ so I have been preparing for this day. I am ready to invest because recessions make more millionaires than any other time in history.”

5) “Living under your means:” Maintaining fixed expenses…

“Managing your fixed expenses is absolutely the key to living under your means. I think the reason why folks have a hard time with living under their means is they don’t see the purpose behind it.

“The purpose of budgeting is not to budget for budget sake; it’s so you have excess savings. The purpose of savings is not to save for saving. Save it so that way you can invest. The purpose of investing is to grow wealth.”

(Quotes courtesy of Rolling Out and CNBC.)

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Entrepreneurs

This Millennial Investor Made His First $1M At 20—Then Invested In Lyft, SpaceX, Spotify, Eventbrite And Slack. Here’s How He Does It

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When it comes to spotting trends and making deals, Lucas Asher is what you could call a prodigy.

A self-made millionaire, Lucas made his first M, just shy of his 20th birthday coding for other people. Since then, he’s become a real-life skydiver, an indie-rock artist, verified Instagram influencer, and—of course—big-time venture capital investor.

As CEO of Tower Equity, Lucas has invested in a who’s who of tech unicorns, including Slack, Space X, Pinterest, Spotify and Ripple.

“I worked on building games, software, and ultimately I was able to provide a lot of value to other people that gave me a platform to form my own technology venture capital firm,” Lucas told Forbes in a recent feature.

We thought that was pretty interesting. So we decided to have a chat with Lucas about his deals, returning to a post-COVID “new normal,” what industries he’s bullish on and what’s next.

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Youth is an asset. When you are young you can take zero sum risks. . . In game theory, a zero sum risk is something that could wipe you out. . . As people get older they can’t play zero sum games. . The problem is that all of the best positions in life are occupied by people who: . ✅1: Were willing to play zero sum games . ✅2: Did play zero sum games for a long time . Leverage your youth to go zero sum on your crazy dreams. . If you get completely wiped out, it’s not the end. . You will have time to bounce back stronger than ever, (and you don’t have any dependents who rely on you) . When was the last time you really acted “zero sum” on your dreams? . Have you risked your entire life on what you really want? . Your professors, parents, preachers and friends will tell you it’s a bad idea. . . I think it’s the only way to live 💯

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wealthlab: Hey, Lucas!

Lucas Asher: What’s up.

Let’s jump right into it. We’re in 2020, in the middle of the pandemic. What trends are you bullish on?

After investing in over 39 notable technology companies like SpaceX, Pinterest, Spotify, Adaptive Biotechnology and many others, I tend to be bullish based on either a short term or long-term thesis.

In the short term, you will see SaaS software companies in the cloud dominate because of the “work remote” pandemic cycle our economy is in.

Makes sense.

Most notably, Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey recently announced that Facebook and Twitter employees can work remote forever. This is quite the reversal of the “open office” trend we witnessed during the last 10 years—and likely to continue, given the move toward the cloud and globalization.

What about on a more long-term basis?

In the long term, you will see general Artificial Intelligence and the advent of private space commercialization that eclipse the GDP of sovereign nation states. If you look at the potential for SpaceX’s Starlink,” specifically, it could spawn the next trillion-dollar communications conglomerate.

Also, you will see enormous companies come from things like asteroid mining that could easily pass the entire GDP of the USA, given the abundance of valuable resources in the new space economy.

Speaking of AI. Where do you see the major first disruption happening?

Although general artificial intelligence is still mainly relegated to academia, it’s likely to enter the medical field first, and rapidly take over financial services next.

What makes you say that? 

There’s no way human computational ability has any chance of competing. And that will usher in the most significant era of efficiency for capital allocation and medical advancement in history. I feel strongly both my short and long-term thesis will materialize in our generation.

What are your thoughts on COVID? How do you feel about how it’s impacting business? 

Pandemics will certainly become much more prevalent in our society. We must collectively, as a civilization, invest preemptively to combat viruses, instead of being reactionary, as we’ve seen.

From a business standpoint, pharmaceutical companies, in general, have occupied enormous margins with near monopoly power. Yet, they haven’t made commensurate investments into pandemic-related research.

Perhaps there will be some form of regulatory mandate that asks big pharma to put a certain amount of profits in a public trust to invest in R&D to better understand these novel virus’. And harnessing the private sector’s investment capability to do so.

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As kids, we were told many things, by well intentioned people, that turned out to be wrong… . . These well intentioned people, are parents, teachers, spiritual leaders, and various authority figures. . . . . It’s completely possible to be well intentioned, and wrong at the same time . . That is exactly what happened…. . . Your parents, teachers, and everyone who gave you advice, ( about how to live a great life) were wrong, but they meant well. . . . . The simulation has changed since your parents generation… . . Their ideas and ways are outdated software being inserted into our modern operating system . . . Software gets updated all the time, it’s not their fault that they adhere to their older version… . . For example: . . . The software version of having a “secure job” was outdated a long time ago. (It doesn’t even exist anymore) . . The software version of having one condensed religious doctrine, (curated by old men) and irreproachable by science is outdated. . . The software version of not extending equal human rights to the LGBT 🏳️‍🌈 community for all regions international is LONG GONE! ✊🏾 . . The software version of scarcity and lack of resources for our species is outdated. . . The software version of ‘knowledge gods,’ holding the keys to wisdom, through institutional debt education is outdated… . . The main problem with society, is, well intentioned people, who mean well, but are advocating wrong information . . Sometimes a bridge is good to cross… . . Sometimes a bridge is good to burn… . Sometimes a bridge is good to build… . . #omertacortex 🍄👽💨🎮

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What industries and/or technologies are you bullish on now and what do you see emerging on the other side of this pandemic?

Fintech appears to be the most disruptive. There is an API revolution happening right now that will far surpass the application revolution that happened in the early era of the Internet.

I believe the trillions in wealth that we have seen go toward the application sector of the internet will gradually go to APIs and protocols. One of my favorite thinkers I have been reading a lot from is Venture Capitalist Fred Wilson at Union Square Ventures.

Switching gears a bit. You’ve done a ton of deals. What’s your best and worst investment?

My best investment up to this point has been SpaceX. My worst investment remains to be seen since I primarily fund private companies as an accredited VC, which takes years to realize.

That said, I’m not incredibly happy with SoFi right now and would like to see them pivot.

Investment you never made that you wish you did?

UiPath and Boston Dynamics [UiPath is valued at $7B while Boston Dynamics was acquired by SoftBank]. I am very interested in robotic process automation and the potential it has to alleviate a lot of suffering in the manufacturing economies.

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Business

How Mark Cuban Invested $640k In A Company That Started…As A Prank

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In what turned out to be a ruse, a startup disguised their business as a prank to raise over $640k from investor Mark Cuban on Shark Tank.

Minneapolis-based entrepreneurs, Ryan Walther and Arik Nordby, founded Prank-O, a business that was built around amusing their friends with bizarre and fake products.

In their pitch to the Sharks, they introduced a string of products in gift boxes — ranging from coffee-maker shower heads to snack hats — only to reveal later that the novel products were fake.

The duo looked to snag an investment of $640k for an 8% stake in the business, before revealing their declining sales — from $10M five years ago to an estimated $2.8M this year.

The dip in sales came after the team tried to branch into creating the prank products, stringing together debt worth nearly $1M.

Despite the numbers, Mark Cuban bit. “I’ll make you an offer, but you’re going to have to listen,” Cuban said.

“You’ve got a great product, you’ve got great comedy minds, but your track record speaks for itself, and I don’t mean that in any disrespect, but all entrepreneurs go through this,” he said, offering $640k for 25%, more than three times what the company initially pitched.

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