Today’s show we talk more about the “now” – what is Mike Michelini up to – what kinds of businesses is he in, and what the future he sees in e-commerce, global trade, and more.
Topics Covered in this Episode
We talked about the past, Wall Street, China, ecommerce – what are you up to now, Mike?
How many people are on the team, and what are they doing?
Lets learn more about your operations.
What do you think of the current landscape of sourcing from China, India, Southeast Asia?
Any insights and trends.
Rapid Fire Questions:
Lorenzo asks lots of rapid questions to dig deep.
Thanks, Lorenzo, for having me! I appreciate the opportunity to be part of your podcast.
People / Companies / Resources Mentioned in this Episode
√ Lorenzo’s VIP Page
√ Leaders With A Heart
√ Cross Border Summit, Nov 15-17, 2023 – 2023.crossbordersummit.com
√ Visit our GFA partner – Mercury – for US banking solutons for your ecommerce businesss
√ Visit our GFA partner – Casia Cross Better Logistics – for your logistics needs
Episode Length 0:52:30
Thanks, Lorenzo and a heartfelt thank you to all the listeners for tuning in. Your support means the world!
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[00:00:00] Episode 419, 4 1 9, Global From Asia, Part 2 of the origin story here, going into Global From Asia, and what we’re doing now. Let’s tune in. Welcome to the Global From Asia podcast, where the daunting process of running an international business is broken down into straight up, actionable advice. And now, your host, Michael Michelinie.
Thank you so much for choosing to listen to, or maybe watch, this. [00:00:30] Global from Asia show, actually some YouTube consultants are bombarding us saying we need to get more views on our YouTube channel. Yeah, but we’re mostly iTunes, audio. I think most of you are outside. But if you happen to be watching this, I’m hanging out in the hood here in Thailand.
It is Six days till the cross border summit starts, we’re also adding cross border matchmaker expo the day before. That one will be totally for free. Get to meet some factories and we’re [00:01:00] working with some amazing partners on that one as well as free meetup the day before but of course The, the grand event is the summit on the 16th and 17th.
I think maybe a couple more general entries. I’m actually speaking this time at it and I have some surprises, but you get a little bit of hints today on this show. If you can’t make it where I talk about the future of global from Asia, we have Lorenzo back with the leaders with a heart podcast host. Uh, he says I inspired him to [00:01:30] start his podcast, which makes me so happy.
Um. That’s what I love to do. So, he is, um… Got me on part two of his show or we also put it here talking about what what what what I and we are up to At the global from Asia and all the other things we’re doing or the Amazon brands and the blockchain and things like that Cars gonna come and hit me in a second, I think But this is episode 419, yep, there’s a car coming And [00:02:00] we are rolling ahead we’re rolling ahead let’s tune into the show and then afterwards I will share You know, how I feel with Lorenzo’s talk and other things, so let’s tune into the show.
Alright, we have Tommy, the sales manager at CrossBetter Logistics. How are you, Tommy? Hi, I’m fine. We just got to meet here in Shenzhen, China. It’s great. Uh, they support the show at Global From Asia, and we also use them ourselves for many of our brands and e commerce businesses. And Tommy really cares.
They [00:02:30] always are, uh, trying to help us save money, you know, not, you have some products you keep for us in China, you have some products you keep for us in the U. S. warehouse, and uh, I really appreciate that. And you’ll, you can talk to the seller, right? You can give them your advice. You work with many Chinese sellers a lot, right?
And uh, you can help, um, help the sellers understand more. Yeah, we are very professional for the shipment to USA and Canada. Also we have [00:03:00] warehouse in USA and Canada. We can help our factories, suppliers, sellers for the shipment. Yes. Yeah, yeah. For the e commerce business. Yep. Thanks. And you even keep stuff in China too, so sometimes if you have the limitations of sending too much to Amazon, you can keep it here in China with, uh, CrossBetter, or you can send it of course to the U.
- warehouse. They have many different options and they’re always trying their best to find, uh, find out [00:03:30] what’s the best solution for you. So definitely talk to Tommy, talk to CrossBetter, and thank you for your, uh, support. Yes, we have good pricing and better service. Thank you. Thank you so much. Greetings everyone.
This is Pema the Leaderswap podcast. Today I have a part two of a beautiful conversation I started, I think last week or the week before with all my good friends that I actually met in person when I was living in China and Hong Kong. Mike McElhinney. Mike McElhinney [00:04:00] is the go to guy when it comes to anything sourcing in China, you know, anything doing business in China and he’s a big time.
Podcaster, inspirational guy. And also he, he hosts some of the biggest events for, uh, cross border and is actually gonna have one soon. And the next, when is it? November. What, what’s the date? Today? Yeah. November. Yeah. 15th. We have a little expo. And then 16th, 17th is the conference. There you go. So we’re going to talk about that.
This time it’s not going to be in Hong Kong and Shenzhen like it [00:04:30] used to be. It’s going to be in Chiang Mai, Thailand. So it’s going to be fun. A new experience for the new world post pandemic. So it’s going to be exciting. And anyways, I’m excited to have him back because last time we talked about his, his path, his background, quite, quite a good one.
Very colorful. So we should love the section of what we talked about, what it’s like working on wall street on the streets, not in the streets. It was pretty much same, same as I say, you know, same, same as far as some cool stories. And yeah, and we’re going to [00:05:00] continue where we left off. So first of all, Mike, welcome back to the show.
My friend. Thanks. Thanks buddy. Thanks for having me. Amen. Pleasure’s all mine. First of all, tell us how are you doing today? It’s great. It’s Friday. We’re doing this Friday afternoon. Halloween just passed. My, my, my son just did his first trick or treating experience. Which was, he thanked me for it after, which was awesome.
I think, I don’t know how it came up, but I was a little bit tired to be honest. And he was kind of completely, he was [00:05:30] talking about the candy or something. I said, you know, miles, we did this for you, for your memory. I hope you remember this. And he says, Oh, thank you. Thank you, daddy. Something like that.
Yeah, it’s fine. Awesome. Yeah. I’m surprised that the people, so when you were knocking on the doors, do the Thai people, what are you doing here? You know, it was the first time I ever did it because there’s a specific neighborhood, I forgot the name of it, but my friend [00:06:00] lives in that garden or a complex or villa, whatever that only that one does it.
Because there may be this more expat or international or become some kind of tradition, I don’t know, maybe somehow it started there and it’s grown and now it’s become known and it’s pretty full just in this one area. You know, I was watching I saw a meme on YouTube the other day about about Halloween.
There’s this family, they just left a bucket with a note saying please help yourself and the bucket is empty. [00:06:30] Did you see anything like this? That was one that was spraying the, the silly string at you, uh, like trick, like. But, you know, they were actually really, some were really, really well prepared. They had a, you would go into their house and they had like skeletons and, and, and cobwebs.
And the woman was dressed as a, as a, as a witch and she’s talking and you have to answer her questions and she’s got different. I was really like [00:07:00] amazed. Nice, nice. I’m sure the kids would have, I’ve loved it. So that’s what matters at the end of the day. All right, Mike. Let’s tell us last time we left off about what’s your business.
So tell us, first of all, what’s your, what’s your doing, what’s your business and what’s and all that good stuff. Sure. I think, you know, me by now, I do lots of stuff, but I’m starting to call it an e commerce venture studio, or basically we, we, we own operate a few different e commerce related businesses, product [00:07:30] businesses, as well as services and mostly on Amazon.
And we started all of these during, during COVID actually, most of the brands, one, one, one brand we joined as a. Partner later that was existing already, but all of them started during COVID to do what I love to do is, is, is creating, creating. And on top of that, we, we also service a few select e commerce or related businesses with our team.
So we have a pretty wide team now about 15 people, mostly in the [00:08:00] Philippines, working online. That’s, you know, started to learn also during COVID a lot. We had a, like a HR consultant coach and we built like. Like teams and like middle level management, which is all online, which is, I feel like harder than, uh, in person, but basically, yeah, I mean, e commerce brands, e commerce services for other e commerce companies also, as you know, we’re talking about the summit, the events, the community for e commerce, uh, people, and there’s a little bit of a newer [00:08:30] idea that I’ve always wondering if I should bring up or not, but we can get into it like, uh, e commerce and a blockchain.
So we’re working on a new blockchain. Oh, Uh, protocol so that people can, instead of selling on Amazon, they sell on the blockchain. And then the product is listed on the chain and then the buyer buys it from them off a chain through multiple, maybe even more clients, multiple marketplaces. No. Wow.
Interesting. What kind of services do you, do you offer to your companies, to these e [00:09:00] commerce brands? So, you know, I’d say content creation, we don’t do the photo or the video. Like we don’t do a shoots or something. You have to give us the raw or, or, or images. But from there we can create everything and do everything.
So we create, you know, if it’s an Amazon listing, we can do that, or we can do it on a website. More what we’ve noticed, we are, you know, we only have like three, four clients, honestly, but mostly we help them with their web and their social content. We’re like a content creating team at [00:09:30] parent company is Shadstone kind of.
Behind me, the logo there. Yes, yes. So that’s, that’s kind of like our service consulting team that does that. And web, this is heavy more on web than Amazon. So like web based content, but it also of course can improve Amazon. We did even help Lazada sell it recently. It’s not really about the marketplace.
It’s more about the content that’s on their listing. To help them get more conversions and sales and traffic. [00:10:00] So I know you noticed that back in around 2018, 19, there was a surge and to pretty much all the sellers that used to live in China, people working in China, especially the expats, they got into the aggregators selling.
Yeah, that was a mad rush. You got into that. Yeah, I got into that right, I feel like, towards the beginning. Yeah, it started, kind of started in 2019. It got really crazy into COVID. Yeah. Yeah. [00:10:30] What’s the trend now? Is it back to, so… How is e commerce, especially Amazon doing nowadays? It’s still a viable business or is it now no longer the days for the new guy to come?
And it’s more like for very established, sophisticated sellers with teams with, with pretty much big pockets, endless resources. Like we’ve seen some, you know, in changing in China, the entire operations, like. 20 story floor on each floor, you have 200 agent, each agent running like [00:11:00] 20, 20, 300 SKUs, you know, and then they just call the, the, the, the neighbor, the cousin was a factory or, okay, send me 20, 000.
I’ll, I’ll pay it in a month. If you can, we can compete with that. It is somewhat, you know, I don’t want to discourage people listening, but yeah, I mean, I think that this was a chat recently with some other more established sellers and some newer seller was asking similar and I contributed and I, I said, of course, I like to say it’s [00:11:30] possible.
But yeah, I mean, I think it’s hard. It’s harder. Of course. Now, 1 other seller said it better. And he says. It’s not about how much time you put into it. It’s more about, you know, the strategies and are, uh, like effective with how you do it. So while you don’t have to be like an experienced old seller, but if you can be a new seller, but if you know the game and play the game, you can still win.
So it’s like more like you have to have these skills [00:12:00] and new sellers can learn these skills. Of course, obviously there’s advantages to those have been just like any, any industry, career business. Personal or whatever, the more you do something and the more you better, you know it, but yeah, it’s, it’s not like, you know, the good old days of like 2016, 20, even earlier was where you can kind of almost put up anything and it would, it would sell.
So it’s definitely a more challenging, but I hope to change that. You know, maybe this web three stuff or other platforms, but, but even it does seem like you have to have more and more of an operation, but then [00:12:30] again, AI is making it easier, right? AI makes it easier. I was just on a call a couple hours ago with a friend that has something you just you can take a normal picture of a product.
Right. Like, like a shirt, he showed me like a flat shirt, like, you know, without a person and it actually can put it on AI model and it doesn’t look like it’s not just like a sticky one, like those toys where you put the cardboard clips, it actually like wraps around them. It shows the folds and it shows the three, you know, it looks like a real [00:13:00] model wearing that real clothing.
So, so that’s making it more accessible. Cause you don’t need to have a photo studio and models and photographers, but it also means. You know, anybody can do that now, right? It’s just a weird kind of thought, but then it drops the barrier because anybody with the, I don’t know what the right word is, passion drive or just determination to keep pushing that content out because he’s basically saying you can use this and then not just put it on your listing, put this on socials, you know, you can just make [00:13:30] unlimited amount of content from this AI generator.
One question I want to ask you now. It’s of course, that’s a very, you know, ongoing question. It’s changes all the time. So remember back in 2015, 16, there were people saying, oh, you can launch a product with 500, 1, 000, and it came to 5, 000, 10, 000. So as of today, November 3rd of 2023. What’s the minimum budget required to launch a successful brand or sorry, successful product on Amazon?[00:14:00]
You know, I, I hate that it depends, but yeah, I would still say around 10, 10K. You know, it’s gotta be, it depends on your price point of your product, but I still do think a price, especially if you’re a new seller, shouldn’t be an expensive product. Anyway, in my opinion, because it’s more challenging. So, you know, if you’re doing like a 10, 20 product, 10 K with inventory, just try to get as little inventory as possible, in my opinion, to start, you know, and [00:14:30] then get the experience launching it with PPC and other launch strategies.
Again, you know, I. I always say it and I can’t say I always practice it myself, but you know, you’ve, you’ve been involved with that building up a list before, right? Building up an audience before. So if you have some kind of audience or traffic source before you launch your product, you know, in here there’s so many nomads in Chiang Mai, a lot of them are affiliate marketers, right?
They’re really good at traffic generation. If they were to apply that to launch on Amazon or launch a physical [00:15:00] product, they have a huge advantage because they can use their list. Hopefully they’re building up emails or, you know, communities or groups or pixels or whatever, you know, that’s a huge advantage to, to launching.
Right. So if you have that, when you launch or, you know, you know, like Kickstarter or crowdfunding first then to Amazon, You know, our friend Don Wilder speaks about that. And I’ve, I haven’t done it for my own brand, but I’ve been involved with some, and I’ve seen some campaigns like that. That’s another way.
Let’s say it’s a bit of [00:15:30] work, but that’ll give you an advantage. And then you don’t have to buy it until it sells. Oh, they got to do a lot of work in marketing and the prototyping upfront, but, but yeah, those are some different strategies. Two questions come to mind. One question, I’m going to leave it for another moment, but is China still a viable option for someone that’s starting to or planning to launch a product, a business for the long run to source from China?
Because, you know, we, we both, you know, we heard horror stories, especially during the pandemic, that [00:16:00] factories would take your money and disappear. And, you know, what’s, what’s, what’s the deal nowadays in China? Is it still a viable option? I just want to say, I haven’t, I, I haven’t heard the story of them just disappearing during covid.
Maybe, maybe it happened, but I don’t, I just don’t want to say, I don’t remember that myself, but I’m sure that could have potentially happened. Hopefully, if they were legitimate factory, but, yeah, of course, I guess there was cases that I could see happening where they go bankrupt or other issues, but, you know, China’s [00:16:30] can’t affairs kind of just wrapping up right now.
Our friends has had a, those meetups, Chris, you know, Chris and FBA for you just did a second one a couple of days ago, and they’re saying more came this time than last more international sellers came. So, you know, China did just finally reopened the border and around February 2023 this year, earlier this year.
But, you know, I was literally just on a webinar with Meghala this morning from India. I was about to mention that. Yeah, I was just on her webinar like [00:17:00] six hours ago. And of course, I’m talking about Thailand. She’s talking, her and her team talking about India. So it, it does make sense now more than ever.
If you’re just starting to consider another market, if you’re starting from, from scratch, in my opinion, of course, the tricky part is it depends on what product and, and I don’t know if you’d agree, but of course there is issues in China, but China is still generally easier. I don’t know if you’d agree.
Infrastructures, yes. They have a infrastructure. All they have everyth in place and they know how to do it. They know how to prep for FBA, they know [00:17:30] how to package the right carton sizes. Like I’ve made mistakes here where, uh, they didn’t know that they couldn’t have oversized cartons. So then I’m like, oh, I, my mistake, I didn’t tell you the carton should be.
You know, no bigger, we don’t want oversized. So, you know, there was like all these hiccups because they’re kind of learning here. So I think it depends on the product and how much patients, of course, you can also get lower MOQ still in China, normally, generally than in other markets. So it’s a really a tricky, tricky [00:18:00] answer.
It depends what kind of product, but you know, you could also make a part of your brand. You can make it part of your brand. I mean, I have, I have a friend who just emailed me recently doing Mexico clothing into the U. S. And he puts it, he basically says, we buy this from Mexico and sell it in the U. S.
Right. So it also be part of your story and your brand, you know, where you’re buying it from. Absolutely. So we’re kind of on the fence, you know, I think it’s still on the fence, but of course the trend is, is going outside of China generally. [00:18:30] So you’ve been sourcing, living in Thailand for the last, what, two, three years now?
Uh, it’s been a bit over a year, a year, almost a year and a half. And then I did a year and a half before COVID. And you’ve been sourcing from, from Thailand and then for how long now? Two, three years? Yeah. I mean, during COVID it started, I was planning for it before COVID, but then I got into China, but yeah, so it’s about three, three years now.
So in what way sourcing from Thailand would make more sense than [00:19:00] say from China? It really depends on the product category or product type, like China, China, of course, is much better at injection mold plastics in general. Of course, there’s exceptions and electronics, right? I don’t know anybody making electronics in Thailand, maybe in Vietnam, but you’re kind of, you know, or you’re, you know, but if you’ve like, here’s like a lot of handmade products, um, a lot of, you know, natural products.
So if you’re able to use those [00:19:30] kinds of products in your, in your business. That would be a good advantage. And then you could also, it’s also sometimes more attractive to the buyer as well. You mentioned Megla. So back three years ago, I, I got involved with another friend of mine. I don’t know him. Riley Bennett.
He’s a seven figure salary agency. He’s a good buddy of mine. Yeah, he’s coming to the summit. He’ll be here. Oh, really? Okay, cool. We did that. We did an academy. The FBA was my inspiration. We did that. And what we [00:20:00] did, we invited Megla because we’re looking to offer other options to people. Other than China.
And one thing that I learned to Megla is that in India, the products use natural materials. It’s handmade, much easier to to build actual branding. And but because of that, the MQ sometime can be even sometime can be lower, but higher, but also the cost would be higher because they handmade the higher quality natural.
But if you’re looking to build like a more [00:20:30] premium product, yeah. Then India would be, especially depending on the type of product, especially anything to do with leather, with wood, then India would be better. I tried to do a, to do a Kickstarter back then in 2020, and I couldn’t, she was gracious, she connected me to quite a few suppliers, but again, what you mentioned.
The lack of infrastructure in India compared to China. Yeah. So India, India is an interesting, interesting [00:21:00] option as well. I even looked when I was trying to do my kicks, I even looked into Mexico. I found a very unique materials in Mexico, but again, you know, in Mexico, they have this attitude of a manana tomorrow, no rush that, uh, sometime in China, they go straight to business.
They really know what to do. You just like you said, yes, China is so much more advanced and in certain aspects that, you know, they know what to do. And other places, I even looked into Italy, I looked into Portugal, but the costs were way so high in those countries [00:21:30] that it said, you know what, maybe at the end, probably China is the best option, despite some of the not so good aspects, but yeah, it is, it is the reality, you know, whether, whether people like it or not, you know, it’s kind of the reality is a, you know, what I say is, you know, there’s Chinatowns all around the world.
Right. And, yeah. Those are like the hardest working people, at least I would say, they’re up at like five in the morning, taking fish off a truck, [00:22:00] you know, and they’re working until like 10, 11 o’clock at night, their family, all their families working, the kids, the grandparents, you know, like the aunts, everybody’s like cutting vegetables and clean the floor, you know, their hardest work, their hard at work people, you know, of course, the political stuff aside, the people generally have a hard work ethic.
Absolutely. You know, we’ve both walked through quite a few floors of factories in China. We see how dedicated, committed they are, you know? [00:22:30] So no, for that, absolutely yes. I, do you think China is now opening up? Because I have some friends in China that I talked to them. They say they’re trying to make things difficult when it comes to bringing money, taking money out, doing business in China, opening bank account, getting SIM cards for foreigners.
Do you think that’s going now towards the right direction, trying to make things easier to facilitate business? With the external world or that’s still I don’t feel that I don’t [00:23:00] there was also, you know I tried to get too political, but there was recently some deaths with some higher level political officials recently I don’t really I don’t read the news.
But of course that It’s suspicious to me or weird to me, from what I understand their political agenda was to make it more opened and to, you know, so while I wish I was, I hope I’m wrong, but it seems like they’re not really, at least the current leaders are not trying to make it more opened and I [00:23:30] think most Chinese people, whether they want to say it or not, would agree with that, in my opinion.
Oh, wow. Okay. Yeah. Anyways. Tell us about your event in two weeks time. Sure. Yeah, so it’s the cross border summit. It’s our fifth one, but first in four years. It’ll be, uh, you know, big, I think it’s true. For the e commerce space, it’s a whole new world. You know, like you said, you asked about, we didn’t really talk about the aggregator earlier, maybe.[00:24:00]
But yeah, I mean, the space has just changed. Some sellers were bought out and cashed out and left. And some, you know, aggregators are going bust now. You know, the… Wow. Yeah, I… Rumor is Thrashio is on a brink of restructuring. So, so yeah, the event is about new open borders, new beginnings. You know, we waited to do it until China was reopened.
Cause we, we do have some great Chinese speakers and Chinese attendees coming in for it. And we welcome the. That we, we really try hard to [00:24:30] bring, you know, local tie and there’s some from Singapore. Megal is coming from India. Some people from Japan, Nick Katz. So it’s, it’s really like, we’re trying to bring everyone together.
It’s only like a bit over a hundred people, you know, I wanted to try to go bigger, but it’s been so long since we’ve done it. And we, we kind of just set in a foundation now trying to give the maximum value. People love it. And I know you’ve been to quite a few. It’s about high, high value networking, high value connections in a, in a, you know, a hundred [00:25:00] plus person event to get the most, um, of your time there.
And of course, learning two full days of speakers. I was just going through one of the sessions. Can Chan will be speaking, um, from coming from Guangzhou. He’s a Chinese seller, works a lot of Chinese sellers, does training for them. It’s about like what Chinese sellers do, you know, a lot got shut down in 2021, but a lot came back and they’re, they’re actually white hat.
He says, they’re not as many black hat. Cause they’re, they’re scared to get, you know, banned on [00:25:30] Amazon now because some big ones were banned. So they’re, they’re doing it in a more right way, but they’re like, we’re talking about Chinatown. They’re, they’re doing it really hard, you know, really hard and systematically.
So that’s like a session, you know, we have people, you know. A lot of great, a lot of great people, you know, after parties, we’re going to do an expo this time with like 10 to 15 product booths and some other services and some, and we have like some workshops and we’re going to do a factory tours and, you know, product [00:26:00] market.
There’s like some mini like Huachan Bay kind of thing, Yiwu market kind of here, nothing that big, but you know, it was big enough for people to spend like half a day there and get some value products. So it’s going to be an actually like five or six days total, but the main core event is two days, 16, 17.
Yeah, I remember those, those was fun days in, in Shenzhen and Hong Kong. Yeah. Wow. I’m glad to see that Megla is coming back because I follow on Facebook. She was, she just had a very successful once again, trip to India. Maybe [00:26:30] you should go to one of those, you know, I said on the webinar, I think it’s true.
It’s just, my wife is traveling this week and it’s right before Chinese New Year in February. I think we’re down February 4th to the 10th. So, I’m, uh, I’m working on unlocking that in. Yeah, that would be fun, yeah. She even invited me to sitcom, but I stepped away from e commerce for now, but who knows, there’s always this itch to get back in the game, you know, once in the game you get a [00:27:00] taste of it, and now you see the world opening up again.
Taking the knowledge, the connection you have and put it, apply it to, to connect it to your podcast here. And, you know, kind of, you know, kind of cross pollinate different service and business product together, right. Build out and, you know, so it’s not totally unrelated to what you’re already building. Now, maybe some podcasting gears, some gears for books, something like this.
[00:27:30] Yeah, we could brainstorm on it together. Yeah, sure. Why not? I’m open because, you know, the itch is still here, you know. Yeah, I like making me think of the mafia or something. You can’t get out.
Exactly. Wow. Cool. What else are you working on? So, yeah, the last one, which is a bit bigger and it’s hard to… You know, it’s not like it’s a secret, but it’s just so early and innovative, but we’re, we’re [00:28:00] building a blockchain for e commerce, so it’s called load pipe. I think we’ve maybe heard that keyword.
We had that for a few previous uses, but still a general idea of supply chain on a blockchain, but. Starting with an e commerce and the idea is it’s not yet ready. There’s nothing to show. Unfortunately, we’re trying to get something ready and a little kind of gift for those that make it to the summit in a couple of weeks.
But the other, the idea is. When [00:28:30] you list a product, you don’t put it inside of a central database like Amazon or even, you know, like, cause right now web, the big core difference of web two and web three that I think a lot of people don’t understand is web two is you sign up for Facebook or Amazon. You put your email address and a password and you check a box.
And it’s like, you don’t read that box, right? Does anybody read that box? They just checked off, but that box basically means they can [00:29:00] delete anything and censor you and delete your stuff and maybe even change your stuff. I don’t even know what it says, right? Basically means you own nothing. They own everything.
They can sell ads on your stuff. They can do anything they want. But web three, the core difference. You log in with your wallet, which is your like identity. That’s your like C phrase and your crypto and your money. So maybe some people are familiar with NFTs. I know some people got a bad taste in their mouth from the NFT bubble, but [00:29:30] you know, it’s not dead.
I don’t, I definitely don’t believe it dead. Of course there was a huge bear market. But basically the idea is you own the assets in your wallet and you have your money and you have your assets in your own wallet and then you list them on a marketplace. But they’re still your identity and your content or assets in your wallet.
It’s yours. So even if the platform deletes you on Web3, Your identity and your [00:30:00] content is still in your wallet. I don’t know if you understand that difference. Do you, do you want to, is that clear? Yes. Yes. Yes. I get it. So we’re building that basically we’re building it where you put the product in the blockchain and all the product is on chain You listed on to say something like a mark, like an Amazon or like a marketplace that’s web three, but it’s in the listing is in your wallet.
And you’re saying, I have 50 of these. This is the pictures description. People pay you, you get [00:30:30] crypto, you ship it. There’s some escrow, right? And it’s all on the chain on the chain. And then if, if, if this marketplace doesn’t like what you’re selling and they want to delete you, They can, they can, but they can’t take your name and your content.
Like it’s yours. So that’s the core difference. The censorship is on the marketplace level, not on the protocol level. It’s separating the data from the marketplace. Whereas right now we all just [00:31:00] accept, we sign up for Instagram, Facebook, Amazon, we just accept that that’s not ours. We just accept that I get banned.
They take my money, they take my product, they take my listing, my photo, they take it and it’s theirs. Or that’s what I checked off, but with web three, they can still ban you on the marketplace, but you would still have your stuff in your wallet. So that’s a big difference. It’s a huge difference. And I, I speak, you know, our friend, [00:31:30] I think you met Danny McMillan.
He’s like a top podcaster and, you know, influencer about Amazon in the UK. And he, I said, Hey, Danny, what do you think? He said, I may, you know, he’s British. Like my, I don’t know anything. I. I have, maybe he says, I don’t want to but he’s like, maybe I’ve used Coinbase or Binance, or I have, maybe he says that, or others I’ve talked to, basically just generally, I don’t want to say a specific person in the community, but the community’s not into it, like, I don’t even know what MetaMask is, they’ll say, I don’t even know, you must, [00:32:00] maybe you know MetaMask, but they don’t know MetaMask, which they I think anybody that’s done anything with NFT.
So yeah, we’re working hard on this. And, uh, I don’t know if you met Nick, he’s been in a community a while. He’s from India and Shenzhen, but he’s, uh, one of our lead developers and partners, we had a call last night. We’re hoping to get this prototype ready for the summit. And you kind of connect that to the theme of open borders, new beginnings, like this is a new beginning as well.
So you’re going to launch this, uh, for [00:32:30] the summit, we’re going to have some launch is a big word, you know, but we’re hoping to have an alpha or a beta or a limited access edition for, uh, attendees. You know, I don’t know how much I want to spill the beans as well publicly, but the idea is, uh. Maybe seller people will be able to be our first seller on the part of marketplace, because it’s not like anybody can be a seller at the beginning.
So it might be some benefits like that. We’re thinking of the benefit and what we can [00:33:00] actually, it’s going to be a long weekend. I’m going to have a weekend with developers. I learned that I’ve been so happy lately. I’m getting really good luck having technical co founders joining this project. Usually we, I don’t think, but usually at least I, I think many others struggle to attract.
Technical people to, to, to join us, like not just like a salary or a consultant, but as a partner and we’ve been, so I feel like that alone, that alone is like a win because [00:33:30] we have three really talented developers. I mentioned Nick, there’s also John and Bo and they’re, they’re building and they’re loving it.
And we won a hackathon. We went to the Ethereum foundation hackathon. We didn’t win like top prize, but we won a partner prize. We won two partner prizes and some cash too. You know, just like around a bit over a K U S and, but still, it was not about the money. It was about the validation. So I think people get it and they say it’s a huge thing.
Right. And so many people are scared to, [00:34:00] you know, compete with Amazon. Cause I guess we’re going to compete with Amazon and. I’m actually a little bit nervous, Lorenzo, because of my friends, I have, I feel like they’re my friends. I have friends at Amazon are coming to the summit. They’re speaking, but it’s not really competing.
They could actually use this protocol. They can use this. I don’t think they would, but they could, right. They could put their data on the blockchain. So I welcome Amazon, you know, maybe some people think that’s [00:34:30] counterintuitive, but I welcome them to use this ecosystem. Absolutely. Who knows, maybe later they can just.
You can be, you can sell it or license it to them, you know, that’s the ultimate dream. You got a nice eight, nine, 10 figure exit. You set, you know, well, it’s a bit of a different model. I don’t know if I can sell it. Cause I’m really trying to make it to like, you know, like Bitcoin or even Ethereum that’s decentralized.
I don’t own it. Of course I’ll have some, some, some, some of it, but I don’t, I don’t even on a call last night, we had a good 10 person team [00:35:00] call. And there, one of them says, Oh Mike, you are, you are project. I was like, no, it’s. This is not my, this is ours and it’s everybody’s so yeah. Absolutely. You know, one, one question that I been, you know, wondering about and, you know, everybody’s talking about Amazon.
Amazon sure cannot be ignored as the big elephant unless you want to call it whatever. But then I’ve been seeing also people [00:35:30] talking and successfully building business and selling on Walmart. What are your thoughts on that? Yeah, I mean, Walmart’s not, you know, there’s some other newer ones that maybe you don’t even know, like Teemu, T E M U, this one again, I, I’m kind of spilling the beans of some of our speakers content because I’m looking at their presentations, but you know, this one has overcome Walmart’s traffic in U.
- recently, T E M U, T E M U dot com. And it’s actually, uh, Teemu, T E M U. [00:36:00] It’s, it’s unbelievable deals. You know, I don’t really even know how they sell like shoes for 2 free shipping. Is it like wish. com? It’s like that, but even crazier and it’s faster shipping. Yeah. Wow. Got to check it out. So that one tick tock tick tock, you know, tick tock starting to add one more e commerce features and marketplaces and services.
And that one’s, you know, so I think Amazon is under threat by those more than Walmart. But of course, I actually got a Walmart account. [00:36:30] I didn’t really notice that much. And I think the mostly the consensus of most of our community is it’s not that much of a sales channel. Depends on, I guess if you’ve got such a hot category, but it’s not getting like all those kind of like niches, like Amazon seller is Amazon so big, right?
You can have a small niche, but if you have a small niche on Amazon, on Walmart, you might not get much or anything. What about, you know, for people like me and you, we’ve been based in Asia for the last few years. What about the local platform like Shopee [00:37:00] and Lazada? Are they viable platforms? I’m tempted to try and I can’t say I have so much experience, but I even talked to my Filipino and Thai.
Team and they even tell me not not to, but they also said that about China. And when I was in China into earlier on, but of course, the discretionary income is not as high here as in the West. So your pricing, you’re gonna have to accept that your pricing is just going to be lower. Maybe you’re going to get higher turnover or.
You know, the dream and I can’t say I’ve done it yet, [00:37:30] but the dream is selling Amazon and Lazada or in Southeast Asia, the same product, right? Because then if you get, because, you know, I think it’s true, whether even though the aggregator model didn’t really work. It still makes sense. If you have higher volume, you, if you have volume, you can reduce your price and your reduce your costs, right?
You know, so if you can get more turnover, but I don’t really have much experience about local [00:38:00] Southeast Asia markets. You know, if I’ve done some, I’ve heard some speakers in our events and, uh, but I’m tempted to do it, but it, it says you got to drop your pricing quite a bit in my experience. And the other trick is it’s not as strict as China, but in China to sell you have to have a bigger brand or you have to be super cheap.
You know, like small to medium sized brands usually don’t succeed because Chinese either want the cheapest or the most expensive. I don’t know if you’d agree. Right. But yeah, I feel like that’s somewhat, somewhat true in [00:38:30] Southeast Asia or just shows you the power of a valuable brand. ’cause even in Southeast Asia, there’s of course there’s of course Rich or a higher income, uh, Southeast Asia consumers.
And they’ll spend high dollars on name brands, right? Just like, I guess, anywhere people, there’s that group of the upper class that are willing to pay that. But if you’re like a, a no name or a little guy, then probably you’re going to go in the lower end of your pricing, unless there’s some way you can get through.
And that’s really frustrating with this influencer [00:39:00] model, right? The influencer model. And they’re like gatekeepers now and they charge their, you know, you got to pay them to kind of get in front of their. Audiences same in Japan. I was in Japan. I think he’s, you know, I’m to carry and seven failure seller, uh, summit as, uh, his event in Japan.
And there was also, you have to get through these gatekeepers of influencers there too. Speaking of China, are you selling Taobao JD and all those platforms? [00:39:30] Um, again, I’m mostly in the West, most in the U S I way, way back. I did Taobao. My Chinese team, and this is like 2008, nine, they thought I was crazy.
And I kind of accepted, I was accepted their terms because you know, you need to have live chats. You know, your prices would be rock bottom. Back then there wasn’t Alipay as well adopted, so they were coming to my office with, to buy like a, I always do those [00:40:00] bar products, to buy a bottle opener, they came to my office to buy a 3 bottle opener, you know, they would look at it, check it, right, and then give you cash.
- I remember that. Yeah, it was really crazy. So, especially now I don’t live there, you know, even, even my wife is Chinese, you know, there is always the fear. Of course, the fear is also on Amazon. The fear is getting locked out of your account, right? Especially if you’re not there. You know, yeah, like it’s much, it’s [00:40:30] likely it can happen in any market, any, any, that’s why I’m working hard on this web three stuff.
But in, in web two, you know, you don’t, you’re just renting an account, right? It’s not your, but especially in China, you one wrong move, you don’t even maybe even know what happened to your, your accounts locked, you know, your money’s locked or whatever. And then they’re like, Oh yeah, just come to the local branch, come to your local branch of your off, you know, your bank.
So it’s a little scary. You know, one thing, one major worry [00:41:00] of sellers on Amazon, especially the last few years was your biggest competition is going to come from your factory because they have all the data, they have all the information. Do you think that’s how much of a concern is that? Say in Thailand, can you really trust your, your factory or, or really have to vet them first before you, you have to try a few, if you can find one, they can trust in terms of terms, quality, and also trust.
So what I’ve learned, whether it’s China, Thailand, or maybe anywhere, [00:41:30] a lot of the factories just prefer me to be, even though they might accept this, not as strong of a business model. It’s a lower risk model because you get your money up front. And some in China, more than Thailand have gone back to being just factories.
Because they, they, they don’t like that risk and it’s a different kind of mindset and work ethic and skill to be a seller than a factory. So I’ve actually seen them reverse that. In Thailand, [00:42:00] one thing we’re learning is, especially as we do this cross border matchmaker expo, we’re inviting factories to come.
There’s, there’s a handful that are both sellers and factories. They may be are actually a lot of Westerners, especially Thailand’s like a lifestyle place. And also for your visa in Thailand, it’s much easier to just open a company. Right? So what I’ve noticed, and actually one of our speakers, Antoinette Jackson, she’s Australian woman here.
Really awesome. She’s going to be one of our speakers sharing her case study of her, [00:42:30] her brand super B. Well, her story is she set up a factory and she’s just actually called a couple others. Also, they sell in local markets, like at the night markets, the products. And then they get, they, they find, they find some traction and then they go online and then they go international.
And even her as Australian, she was selling like products in like markets, physical, like, like street markets. Wait, so she was, she was [00:43:00] finding the, so wait, so she found the products in the, in the night markets. And no, no, no. She had a booth at the night market. Oh, okay. Wow. She likes sustainable products.
She’s really into sustainability eco. And so her brands would be, you can check it out. Superbee. me is about, is about sustainable products for, she uses a lot of beeswax, bees products. So like one of her. Products is this like wrapping paper to preserve your food in the refrigerator [00:43:30] instead of using the plastic wrap or the aluminum foil.
You use her bees bees wax based wrap. That’s reusable, washable. Um, it’s one of her flagship products, but she’s also got a few others that are all about sustainability and not like, you know, hurting the earth, not just at the creation, but at the garbage side, right? Not just on how it’s made, but it’s how it’s disposed.
How it, how it like composes in the, in the, in the, in the dump, right? You throw it in the garbage, what happens, right? Even though it’s made well, if it lasts in a dump [00:44:00] for a hundred years, it’s not as good as something that kind of like composes in like, I’m using arbitrary numbers, but like couple of years, five years, you know, so she’s doing it for both creation and, and reusing and like.
So she has a factory, a company and she sells on Amazon and she sells on her, like, I think it’s Shopify or WooCommerce. So she’s selling and she’s selling in Europe, U. S. It kind of fits the name, you know, our community is global from Asia, right? So she kind of created this empire [00:44:30] from Asia. But what I’m noticing is in Thailand, there are a lot of these that are both the factory and the brand.
It’s not like they did, but they felt like they did it reverse, like where they were just a factory and then they copied their customer and cut them out. I haven’t seen that, but more of the intentionally do both. Um, but of course there’s Amazon global selling here, which will also come to the event. And they’re aggressively trying to get more factories to list onto Amazon directly.
Right. And they’ll [00:45:00] support them with that. So you can’t hate the player sometimes hate the game. Exactly. Exactly. Fascinating, man. We can talk for hours, especially about business, about e-commerce. That’s something I’m also passionate, even though I’m, I’ve stepped away from it. But let’s start to wrap things up.
To finish, I’d like to ask you a series of rapid fire questions about advices. Ready? Ready? What would you say has been so far the best piece of advice you’ve received in your life?[00:45:30]
I don’t follow it so well, but you know, not be as concerned about what other people think. And I still can’t say I practice as much as I want to, but it’s not like being a bad person, but not being so I’m actually trying to teach my son that anyways, I know it’s rapid fire. No worries. What’s the worst piece of advice you’ve received so far?
Kind of ones that say like stay in your safe zone or don’t, don’t go out of your, [00:46:00] there’s some of those people that care about you, right? Like maybe it’s family, friends, coworkers, you know, don’t quit your job or don’t, don’t take that risk. It’s dangerous. And they do it because of love, but yeah, play it safe.
I think it’s bad advice. Especially, I guess, maybe the older you are, or maybe, of course, the younger you are, usually, though, less risk it is, because you don’t have others depend on you, but… Mm hmm. Imagine, imagine that you’re the time machine. You can go back in time and set face to face with an 18 year old Mike.[00:46:30]
What’s the number one piece of advice you would give to him? You know, I think I’ve done it somewhat well, but, you know, be more, even more bold, you know, even be more, take more risks. So you’re a podcaster. Imagine that today you’re interviewing yourself. What’s the first question that you want to ask yourself?
Don’t think too much. First thing that comes to your mind. You know, why, why do you get up every day? And what’s your answer? I mean, to me, it’s… [00:47:00] You know, uh, to, I want to create opportunities for, uh, for others. I work closely with the team, you know, I think, you know, me, I love, uh, after some reason I stuck in the Philippines, a lot, a lot of teams in the Philippines, but I like to empower or enable people that are wanting to work hard to create something better for themselves.
Beautiful. If you had the entire world watching you and you had 30 seconds, what would be your message? Man, there’s some cheat [00:47:30] sheet. I could check in advance. These questions, uh, man, this is hard. First thing that comes to mind. You know, it’s more, it’s similar. It’s similar. I think, you know, don’t, don’t be ashamed.
Don’t be afraid to do what, do what you want to do. Don’t, don’t let other people dictate your life. You know, I don’t want to say be selfish, but, you know, I think you got to find out who you truly are and become who you’re meant to be. The last question, that’s my favorite question to ask all my guests.
And that is [00:48:00] what, in that question, I will have, I will have to give credit to where credit is due. I got this from Rico. He, he asked me that and I, I remember I said, I, when I was in Manila, we did that, we did that episode today by a spool amazing place, but that’s another story. Awesome. So the question is, what is the smallest thing you’ve done that has had the greatest.
Deepest, most profound positive impact in both your life and business. For me, for example, has been starting my podcast. What about you, Mike? And by small, I don’t mean something small. I mean, the one thing you’ve done is complete at the most profound impact in your life [00:48:30] and business so far. Yeah. I mean, I think it’s generally around the content creation.
Like every time I started, even my personal text blog in 2007, I started, it brought me opportunities. So then the form of podcasts, even a vlog, the video blogs, like I was at a workshop last couple of days and people Watching my videos and they know about me and they are giving me, you know, feedback or questions.
So yeah, I think, yeah, sharing my story. That’s it. We all have a story, we all have a voice and that, and gifts. And that’s [00:49:00] what we are here for. Share your story and give, so you can inspire others to make the world a better place. I’m Mike Awesome. And if someone wants to connect with you, what’s the best way to do so?
I think Mike’s blog. com. I have a little contact page there for the, and you can also check the personal updates. And then if you want, if you’d like the kind of business stuff, he conversed off global from Asia. com. And then of course, cross border summit. com is the events and, you know, probably won’t be enough time or we’re sold out on a VIP, but, you know, maybe next [00:49:30] year we’ll hopefully have it.
When this is shown online and come to our event. What’s the date again for the event? November what again? This one is 15, 16, 17. The core event is 16, 17, but we have a free expo. No, no cost for you for the attendees on the 15th. Beautiful. Put that on the, on the show notes. Listen, Mike, always a pleasure talking to you.
Keep doing what you’re doing. Keep shining a light. Keep inspiring people to create a better life for themselves and all businesses find the best product they can. [00:50:00] Keep doing what you’re doing. Talk to you soon. Take care brother. Cheers. Thanks so much. And thank you to our sponsor, our returning sponsor, mercury.
com online bank. Well, it’s a real bank, but you can totally online for us. Our blimp program participants are going through this as well. Thank you, Mercury. Travis is great. There’s been on our shows, been in our events. We’re going to have another event where we will have them attending. And if you want to get a little bonus for you and us, if you sign up and do some special circumstances, you can go [00:50:30] to globalformation.
com slash mercury. I also have a video tutorial that we use even for the blimp people. I use the same exact video to learn how to use it. I hope you can check it out. Totally free. Why not? See you there. That’ll be a globalformation. com slash origin two for the video and the. Audio and the transcription and the show notes and the links.
So thank you Lorenzo for for interviewing me and letting me share on our channel as well But I I [00:51:00] know we do so much. I think we’re defining it as a venture studio ventures seed with all our Investments early stage. I love early stage actually just spoke to some early stage e commerce seller to see if we can support him on his journey And help him grow while maybe helping us out a bit too at all, what we’re doing, maybe an apprentice or maybe, you know, some kind of an agreement, but that would be, I don’t know, I have, I always, I feel like I have too many dreams, but [00:51:30] we have lots of dreams, and we can’t give up on our dreams, actually I was just in Bangkok for a one day trip, I went to a EO breakfast, and there was a few speakers speaking about facing your fears, facing your fears, but that’s much better.
Woah, there’s a bee about to come at me. Facing things and taking action. I think they say courage is not being fearless, but courage is Having fear, or feeling the fear, and still taking action, and still moving forward in [00:52:00] the face of fear. We all have fear, we all have doubts, well you know, of course some seem to not have any, and I’m not a, I’m not some hype up person, so I definitely have my doubts in life.
But you have to keep pushing forward, you have to be willing to, willing to put yourself out there, and willing to potentially fail, or pivot, or change. But, I’m, we’re pushing to have a cross border summit. We have a great announcement. I’m going to be doing a 30 minute talk there. I’ve been preparing for quite some time on it.[00:52:30]
So thank you again for watching and listening and sharing. Thank you Lorenzo. I really appreciated our time together. He was in the e commerce gladiator book. He was part of Sistano. He was actually his original idea. He was the one that product researched that and came up with the name. And we all grew and learned a lot.
Together and we are making things happen. We are growing. We are becoming what we are meant to be I hope you are too and if you’re not think about it look in the mirror I think of [00:53:00] that Steve Jobs thing If you look in the mirror too many times and are not happy what you’re gonna do that day in the morning Then you need to change and change is good change is healthy.
The only constant is change I have a lot of these quotes in my head. Maybe you should have some yourself or steal some of mine That’s it for today. Thank you for watching. I’m actually going to do a speaker call prep call for cross border summit with a bunch of our great speakers in a, and you know, we’re actually going to do the best one yet.
I think we’ll go back to every other week on this show. So now that the [00:53:30] summit is here and every two weeks we’ll have a new episode. Got great people lined up. And thank you for watching. Bye-Bye. To get more info about running an international business, please visit our website at www.globalfromasia.com.
That’s www.globalfromasia.com. Also, be sure to subscribe to our iTunes feed. Thanks for tuning in.