WIN - Fox Wise Planner vs Zon Tools
Welcome to the first season of Go Pitch Win! Each week Greg is joined by a guest judge to hear 2 entrepreneurs pitch their business or product. After hearing the two pitches they will pick the weekly winner to move on to the final 6. At the end of the 6 weeks, Greg will select the top 3 and then we need you to help us pick the winner! Once the 3 finalists are announced we will open the voting for you #FreedomBuilders to choose our $10,000 winner!
Greg Mercer, Jungle Scout Founder
Greg is the founder and CEO of Jungle Scout, a suite of tools that empowers freedom builders. As a successful entrepreneur, Greg leads a team of 65+ employees. He is also an influential educator, offering free and inspirational content that has helped thousands of people build their own businesses and freedom.
Liz Saunders, Go Pitch Win Project Manager
This week's guest judge Liz Saunders. Liz is a project manager here at Jungle Scout, she's an entrepreneur at heart, has her hand in many different successful businesses, and loves travel and logistics.
Win - Wise Fox Planner vs Zon Tools
Greg: Liz and I both just listened to two different contestants pitch their ideas. The first one was from Rob Wiser with his productivity planner called Wise Fox. The other one was from Stefano and Tariq who pitched to us Zon Tools, which is a PBC automation tool for Amazon sellers. To get started, Liz, what do you think about the Wise Fox Planner?
Liz: I really liked Wise Fox. I'll tell you my favorite part about what he's doing is that he'll be one of the first to market on the Australia FBA Amazon site. I think that's gotta be a competitive advantage for him going into that. I like the research that he's done with affirmations and what works and what doesn't work and how he's incorporated that into a product that has a really more than solid existing marketplace. There is a lot of competition there, but he seems to have really put a ton of thought into why he's doing and what he's doing. I know I mentioned this while we were talking to him, but I legitimately would write down questions and then he would answer them so I would have to mark them off my list. He came very prepared.
Greg: Yeah, I agree. It does seem like he's done his homework about how to effectively plan and put that research into his particular planner. Some of the things that worry me about it is I was like, "Okay, what's gonna set apart your planner versus others?" He thinks it's mostly branding. I don't know if I totally agree with that, especially on the Amazon marketplace. It seems like most people don't really care about branding. I think he has a strong feeling that animal based brands are gonna do a little bit better. I don't know if I exactly agree with that. With that being said though, there is a significant amount of demand on Amazon. It seems like the unit margins for this particular product are pretty solid. They're pretty inexpensive to make so I like all those things.
Some of the other things I'd say that worry me is I think a lot of the existing successful brands on Amazon selling these types of planners have done quite a bit of outside sales. I know of one example, just because I helped them with it, but John Lee Dumas for Entrepreneurs on Fire, he has one of these productivity planners on Amazon and I helped with some of the Amazon sales. He has a huge podcast following. He has a lot of traffic to purchase these on Amazon. I'm worried that some of these sales numbers may be inflated.
Liz: I think one of the things that I wondered about is I'm not sure he has quite enough of a specific niche for his target user. I know he's targeting the US and Australia, which is great, but I do think that to be successful in such a large market, that he'll need to niche down a little bit more within the productivity planner piece of it, and really find who those people are and where they're at. He did have the Kindle and the other products that seem to be productivity based enough that he can push those sales. I do think that's a pro in his column of being able to move that forward.
Greg: That's a good point. I like that too. He has shown historical success, like on Amazon with his Kindle books and a lot of those same characteristics carry over into selling physical products as far as finding the keywords to target. He probably does some PPC. He said he has experience also building his own sites and driving traffic there. He does have a background of tools that will help him be successful in this one. Overall, he just seems like a sharp guy. I got the impression he's the type of guy that could just figure things out and he's obviously done lots of homework leading up to this point. I think he's a self learner, so him as a person, I could definitely see him being successful.
Liz: Yeah. I do think the fact that he's done the kind of Amazon selling where it's hard to differentiate yourself in the Kindle book market if you're writing without a big name and a platform that you're pushing people over to, so he has had experience in this type of sale. I think that works for him. I agree with you that he seems like a self learner and he's gonna go out and figure it out and make it work. I kind of like the animal piece of it, I'm not gonna lie. The fact that it's the Wise Fox Planner.
Greg: What'd you think overall about his SlideDeck and his pitch?
Liz: He was so organized. I thought it flowed really well. He handled what he's gonna spend the money on, what his price points are, why he was doing this, what the pain point is. He's showing screenshots of Jungle Scout showing all of his demand and his keyword research. I thought it was really put together very well.
Greg: I thought it flowed nicely. If I were to give some critiques on how it could be improved, it was probably getting a little bit boring towards the beginning when he was talking about like the background or the research or whatever that he's done that leads to being more productive. I think those five slides could have been condensed into one, just to show he's done his homework. He knows ways to improve on this, and then cut more towards the business aspects which is, I think, what's more important.
Liz: The one other thing rather that I'll add about Robert's is the $10,000 for him will basically totally launch him. He's got the 6000 in cost for the initial order, he's got 2000 to 3000 in shipping and getting it over and then he's got 1000 left for PPC. I think there is something to be said for ... he basically can cover the project where he's at right now and move it into the next stage with the prize money.
Greg: That's a really good point. For him, the $10,000 is gonna get him launched and then from there he's gonna make money where he can reinvest. This really would be the seed money to start his business and from there I think he could be successful without going on to raise more money. He brought to the table a clear plan for that. I agree, I like that.
The other pitch we listened to was from Stefano and Tariq who was pitching to us Zon Tools. Liz, tell us a little bit more about your thoughts on Zon Tools.
Liz: Well, it seems like a really cool tool and I really like that this was something that he basically developed for himself and then people started asking him for it and he was like, "Oh, yeah. I'm gonna do this thing and put it together for people because it could be useful for them as well." There was a lot of data in there that I don't know that everybody who listened was able to follow all of it through that, so that was probably a little overwhelming from an initial standpoint of an introduction to the tool, but overall, I think that they are moving in a really positive direction with what they're doing. I think I mentioned this when we were talking to them, but I love how much listening they're doing to the people in their beta. It's taking an extraordinary amount of their time to develop this, but I do think that in the long run that's going to pay off for them as they develop the tool.
Greg: Can I say this during when we're talking to them, but the PPC optimization market is a great opportunity on Amazon right now. This is a growing market. There's a lot of people that want to use it. It's a proven concept, both by their competitors that are doing well and like I was saying before in other industries as well. There's tools like this to help you optimize Google adwords or Facebook ads or whatever else, and they've had success. I like the market in general.
As far as the presentation, which you touched on, you're right. It went into depth into a lot of things that I think people either don't care about or, if they're an Amazon seller, they already know, so don't need to know. My other beef with the pitch that they gave us is they presented a lot of problems that were on Amazon, but it wasn't clear whether or not their tool actually solves these problems. I don't know. I must just still have these problems in my life. If so, I don't think you need to remind me of them.
Liz: I would like to see ... I'm glad they're doing a beta. Like I said, I think they can do a lot of listening. I would like to see some case studies as they come out of the beta of like what you were saying, taking these problems and how we solved them and by what percentages we solved them and what kind of success, because they did have a couple testimonials, or one specifically that he put up on the screen, that I thought was really good, but I think overall it would be good to see some actual concrete these are the numbers so you can do the data analysis.
Greg: I guess the other thing that wasn't clear to me, it was just why this tool is better than some of the competitors. The thing they just kept bringing up was the price, but I think what I've found, and when I talk to most people, they don't care about spending like $30 a month if it optimizes $5000 of PPC span. Who cares about that essentially insignificant amount of money? If your tool works by 1% better, then who cares about even paying like $100 for it. That's one thing that seemed like the only differentiating factor, the only value prop they brought to it was that, hey, it's free. It's like, okay. Well, A, that's not a sustainable business practice, because it's like okay, once you get 500 units, are you not going to be able to offer me customer support anymore or can I pay you a little bit of money for that? Same thing, I'm well aware about the expenses of creating these software tools over time and that's just not a sustainable model.
One of the things we asked him about, what would you do with the $10,000? He's like, "Oh, we'd hire customer success person." Well, you have enough money to hire them for like three, four months, or however long, and then what? There's still not a clear path forward for this business.
I think the other major hurdle for them, which I was kind of asking about to see if they would be aware of this, is it's really easy to build a tool and to get it usable for a small number of people. The difference of the amount of work and resources it takes, specifically from engineers to get it to that first level and get it to where it's scalable and usable for thousands and thousands of customers is way different. I'd say it takes like 10% of the work to get it there for the first hundred, and then the other 90% to get it there for the next few thousand. I imagine they're gonna hit some of those scaling pains pretty soon. Then after that they need to be thinking a lot about, "Hey, why is my tool better than others? How can I differentiate? How am I going to turn this into a business that's generating revenue so I can reinvest it in resources to work in my business?"
Liz: I think the monetization piece of the whole conversation is the part for me that's the hardest to move past. I totally understand where they're going with we need to brand, we want to build, we want to have a name in the marketplace before we start charging. I understand the thought process behind that. I would love to see a little bit more of a plan for we're gonna do this for now, and then on the other side we're going to move toward monetizing with a monthly fee or percentages.
Greg: I think the other thing that they'll probably run into is, I think it's fine not to charge any money for it when you say it's in beta, but beyond that a lot of people just don't trust tools, including myself to be honest with you, that are free. It's like, "Okay. Are you using my data for something else? Am I really the one being played here?" That's the reason I don't trust free tools, or it's like I don't understand how you guys can support this to a level that would be adequate. Something else before I give anyone my Amazon data, I want to make sure that they have resources working on the security of it. Can someone else easily hack this and steal my data? It's like all of a sudden this free tool doesn't seem like a good deal to me anymore. I think they'll run into those issues as well. I would have felt a lot better if they said, "Hey, we've got our first hundred beta customers. We're refining the tool after that and then this is our pricing plan moving forward."
Liz: I could see, and I know I said this, them doing some type of free at the beginning for a certain number and then moving to a premium for others to continue to onboard people, that kind of stuff. But I'm with you on that. I think that would be a good plan.
Greg: Premium pricing tiers to help spread the word about it. I totally agree with you. I do like that they're talking to lots of customers. That's the best way to help develop and build the tools. It seems like both of them are very passionate about the tool, so I do like that side of it. You can tell they care a lot about this. They've put a lot of their blood and sweat into building it, which is nice.
Liz: I do think it somewhat echoes your story a little bit, too. You took a process and a strategy and automated it to make Jungle Scout as a tool for other Amazon sellers, and it's very similar to what he's doing. He's got this strategy and this tool that he built for himself that now he's going to scale out for other sellers. I do love what he's doing, because I think he's got a really solid proof of concept behind it, if this is what he's doing and his business is extremely successful to the point where he's basically bank rolling this right now for them. That's a strong testimonial for what they're doing.
Greg: Yeah, I agree with that. I saw a lot of similarities between Stefano and myself. I think if I was them, if I was in their shoes, knowing what I know now though, I'd build a few software tools, have successful software businesses. At this point if I was them, I'd probably look at either raising a significant amount of money from VCs like they talked about, or I would look at bringing on a few other people to the team and giving them a significant equity stake, because as I said a few times now, just the resources required to get this to the next level where it's a robust, well-run platform that has support and everything else just requires quite a bit of money and even if you're charging the customers for that, I still know for them to try to get out in front of some of these competitors that are much better funded, have much better teams working on this, it's gonna be difficult to do.
That's what I would do if I was in their shoes. I'd try to raise like a half million dollars from angel investors as a seed round, or try to bring on some other people on the team to help them with it.
Liz: I think the only other hurdle is if they ... talking about hiring about somebody, this is going back to what we talked a little bit ago, but hiring somebody to do customer success and onboarding for them I think would be a significant amount of work for them at this point. I think they're almost better off continuing to do the onboarding, because they're the ones so intimately and have somebody else take on some of their other admin or those type of things. That's my last piece of feedback.
Greg: All right, Liz. We had two different businesses pitch us their idea today, Wise Fox Planner and Zon Tools. Who do you choose to move on to the next round to be eligible for the $10,000 prize?
Liz: My vote is for Rob with Wise Fox Productivity Planner.
Greg: I agree. As much as I love software, my vote is also for Wise Fox Productivity Planner. The main reason for me is just because I think it's just a business that has a plan. I think the $10,000 can go on to launch this business. From there, I think it will be self-sustainable. With Zon Tools, I'm just seeing a lot of energy and passion, but no clear business plan how they're gonna make this into a legitimate company.
Liz: Yeah. I think Rob's ability to basically go from where he's at to launched with the $10,000 is a big deal and he's got a very clear path, he's already got a supplier all set up and ready to go and he has a plan for if he doesn't win the $10,000 too, which I think is also significant. He's gonna do a kickstarter. He's got ... I think his vision and the way he's got it laid out just really speaks very highly of the direction he's going and the success that he'll have.
Greg: Yeah, I agree. This product I think will just be like the launching point for him. Once he launches this and he's making money, then he can expand it to other products, whether that's more productivity planners or other products, he can expand off of Amazon. I think it's a great launch channel, but he could expand off of there through influencer marketing or do a kickstarter anyway. He has lots of options to go from there.
Liz: Absolutely. I agree with that.