• Inspiring Startups

Finding success on Amazon and helping others do the same - Interview with Greg Mercer, founder of Ju

Greg Mercer is the Founder and CEO of Jungle Scout, the leading all-in-one platform for selling on Amazon. Greg is a leader in the Amazon selling community, who built Jungle Scout from a Chrome extension into a robust suite of SaaS solutions. Greg is a graduate of Auburn University who loves big data, coffee, and traveling the world with his wife, Elizabeth.

What's special about Jungle Scout?

Jungle Scout is the leading all-in-one platform for selling on Amazon. Founded in 2015 as the first Amazon product research tool, Jungle Scout today features a full suite of best-in-class business management solutions and powerful market intelligence to help entrepreneurs and brands manage their Amazon businesses. Jungle Scout is headquartered in Austin, Texas and supports nine global Amazon marketplaces.

Why did you start Jungle Scout?

I started Jungle Scout for myself, actually. I was a third-party Amazon seller, and my wife and I had just packed up all of our belongings and decided to be nomads. I knew that I had to keep my Amazon business afloat and the best way to do that was to continue adding more products to my portfolio, but finding products that would be profitable to sell was a long and tedious process with a lot of spreadsheets, so I created algorithms to quickly calculate which products would be profitable.

Then, I decided “why not share this information with everyone else?” so we launched the Jungle Scout Chrome Extension to the public and within a day we had already had 10 sales.

How did you start it? Did you have any previous experience as an entrepreneur?

I had a focus on entrepreneurship for as long as I can remember. As a kid, I sought every opportunity to fix, build, and sell anything I could. I built my first profitable business called Ped-Key, which put a working key in a motorized scooter — at age 14. But, I still went to college and then went on to get a desk job as a civil engineer. IThrough that, I kept that entrepreneurial mindset, which is why I started my Amazon business.

How did you validate your idea?

For Jungle Scout? Funnily enough, the product I built was designed for validating ideas -- clearly an entrepreneur’s tool. I needed it for my own Amazon business, so the product validation existed in my business, and when I started offering it to other Amazon sellers and the need was immediately apparent, given the fast sales.

How did you finance your project?

I used my own money to finance Jungle Scout. I built the algorithms and hired a contractor to help me build the Chrome Extension. We did it all for about $1,000.

How did you market and promote Jungle Scout when you were launching?

I had friends in the Amazon space already, so I reached out to them to see if I could get on their webinars or podcasts, as a guest. From there, people started to know who I was and I was able to use that platform to market Jungle Scout.

How long did it take you to start getting the first results and see you could create a viable business ?

Within the first 24 hours, we had about 10 sales which was really awesome, since we hadn’t promoted it much beforehand.

Before launching Jungle Scout, you were selling on Amazon as a side hustle. How did you organize to work on your side project while having your day job at the same time?

I focused on my day job from 9-5 but before and after work I would do any updates to my Amazon business as needed. I continued scaling that business until it was able to become a full-time income for me and my wife and then decided I needed to focus on it full-time.

How long did it take to become profitable?

As I said before, we were bootstrapped and we’ve always been profitable.

What do you like most about being an entrepreneur?

I like having the freedom to travel and connect with other entrepreneurs. And now that I run Jungle Scout, I pride myself on giving the tools and free resources to entrepreneurs who are just like me.

What has been your biggest challenge/failure as an entrepreneur?

The biggest challenge of being an entrepreneur is the risk that involves running your own business. You never really know if something is going to work out or not but it’s best to just keep working at it and I think eventually everything will work out the way it’s supposed to!

What are your business goals for this coming year?

At Jungle Scout, we’re always innovating and trying to be the best, most accurate tool on the market. This year we’re hoping to expand on who we help on Amazon to include from the first-time sellers to the big brands.

How can an aspiring entrepreneur start building an E-commerce business now ? What would be a good business type to start as a beginner?

Right now is the best time to start an ecommerce business. E-commerce sales are up and many people that weren’t leaning into shopping online before are now doing so, meaning it’s creating more and more opportunities for sellers.

I would say right now is the best time to start with the research phase that a lot of people don’t want to put time into, but it really is one of the most important steps to running an ecommerce business.

I may be biased but I would say that Amazon is a great starting point for starting a business right now. Since they already have a great infrastructure in place, it takes some of the leg work off of sellers who may otherwise create their own Shopify store or run a business independently.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I think the best way to stay productive is to find the time that works best for you to focus on your business, and the best time to focus on your home life. Sometimes I find myself working long hours but you can easily be burnt out if all you’re doing is working, so finding that work-life balance where you put work away for a few hours in the evening to enjoy dinner and a movie or game with your family is really important and will help you work harder the next day too.

You should always feel like you’re giving 100% and if you’re not, the best thing might be to take a break from working to reset your mind!

What's your favourite quote?

“The reality is great highs, terrible lows and unrelenting stress. Don't think people want to hear about the last two.” ―Elon Musk

Any good book to recommend to an aspiring entrepreneur?

Rework by Jason Fried. A no-nonsense book on tapping into your best work and cranking up your productivity. One part instructional, one part inspirational, this is the first book I recommend to aspiring and growing entrepreneurs.

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Learn more about Jungle Scout at www.junglescout.com

Learn more about Greg Mercer's story on Entrepreneur on Fire podcast.

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