Chad Rubin builds e-commerce businesses and is a top 250 Amazon seller. Fresh out of college and Wall Street, he took his family vacuum business online and built his own direct-to-consumer e-commerce business called Crucial Vacuum. After growing it from 0 to $20 million dollar valuation in 7 years, he co-founded Skubana with DJ Kunovac and built one of the industry’s hottest operational softwares. Skubana is the only tool you’ll ever need to manage and accelerate the growth of your e-commerce business. It is beautiful, intelligent, highly intuitive and incorporates every feature imaginable to drive your future success.
His latest venture, Profasee, helps Amazon brands predict the perfect price for every product by analyzing hundreds of real-time data points through dynamic pricing. This is Chad’s story, and his inspiration to keep fueling his passion.
Where did the idea for Skubana come from?
I got my start in e-commerce when I took my family’s brick and mortar vacuum business online in 2008. As I started to scale, I had a tough time finding a software that actually did what it claimed. Then, I noticed other multi-marketplace sellers had these same issues. After losing money, time and hair – I co-founded Skubana to help myself and all the other high volume sellers out there going through the same challenge of operations management, automation, inventory, and the like.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I’ve automated my e-commerce operations with the software we’ve built – Skubana – enabling us to have only 2 employees. I focus my attention on building Skubana these days. It’s an extension of me and helping sellers has become my mission. I work extremely long hours, use Trello, Slack, Be Focused Pomodoro timer app and Boomerang to enhance my productivity.
We’re fortunate enough to outsource our non core competencies to freelancers and virtual assistants that are location-independent, which means I have team members across the globe who can work from co-working spaces, coffee shops, their homes, and even the beach (as long as they have a reliable connection).
I keep myself productive by infusing crossfit workouts 3x per week into my morning routine, jolting myself with high quality caffeine and meditating for 10-15 minutes as often as possible.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I always start with finding the problem and solve for it with plenty of research. Once you solve a problem, it’s a pull process versus push process. Launching the product online is part business and part mechanics and is also an art. Each platform is different, and has different rules for listings, ranking, and selling. In order for my product to succeed, I need to do a lot of research, understand my market and product, and have a good team that can execute behind me.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
The Internet of Things is very exciting to me, because it shows that our society is shifting more and more towards online operations, interactions, and transactions. With new technologies like virtual reality, which could potentially change the face of online sales, and artificial intelligence, which could improve customer service exponentially, the future of e-commerce is very exciting.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I’m not afraid to say hello. A lot of entrepreneurs are hesitant about reaching out to others to chat, ask questions, or simply to say hello, but that isn’t a problem with me. I’m comfortable comment on something completely out of the ordinary, but surprisingly relevant once we get into a discussion.
If I see a piece of writing that I like, I’ll email the author and say so. If I find a brand that would work well with Skubana, I reach out to see if they’d like to work on an integration. If I enjoy a particular blog, I’ll ask if they want to do a guest post for the Skubana blog. If I see somewhere I can help, I’ll try to do so.
There is very little to lose in saying hello or introducing yourself to someone in the industry, and a lot to gain. I find that making these new connections is a valuable use of time, and most people are more than willing to open a conversation. Plus I’ve seen great reciprocity when trying to help others.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Don’t rely on just one channel. In e-commerce, it’s important to diversify everywhere you sell. I look at selling online like playing monopoly – you need to be on every piece of the board to succeed. It comes down to real estate space- if someone lands on your property, they pay up and e-commerce is no different.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on?
There’s no such thing as work/life balance. Success doesn’t happen between the hours of 9 to 5, which means it’s impossible to achieve work/life balance as an entrepreneur doing what you love. My business is me; it’s what I live, eat, and breathe. Your business and work is an extension of who you are, and it comes down to how well you can manage work-life integration, not separation.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Outsource your weaknesses. Knowing your weaknesses is actually a strength, and an opportunity. If you know you aren’t good at something, outsource it to someone who excels at it. It’ll be better for your business, your mindset, and your time.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
Delegate. The nature of e-commerce trains business owners to delegate; even just shipping and warehousing logistics need to be outsourced (at the beginning at least) for it to be sustainable.
I delegate when it comes to marketing, getting tasks up and executed on our project management software, and software development. I know how to operate a business, but I can’t build the product, market it, send out the packages, and analyze our data with just 24 hours in a day.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
The day after Christmas, I woke up to an email telling me I was suspended from selling on Amazon because they thought the credit card associated with our account was being used somewhere else. This wasn’t possible, since we only had one credit card and it was exclusively for that account.
I scoured LinkedIn for anyone in my network who might have experience with this, and reached out all day. Armed with their advice, I wrote a professional reply back to Amazon explaining our situation, and asking for next steps.
Typically, it takes months (40-60 days) for an account to get reinstated, and suspensions could even result in getting your Amazon selling privileges revoked. My account was live again by the next day, a mere 30 hours after that first email.
Ironically, while my account was down hijackers took over my product listings. I’m working through all this now, and you can expect a recap blog on Skubana in the near future.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Manufacturing is coming back to the United States. We need a easy way to find factories and source products, like Alibaba for the USA. Solve this problem now and reap the rewards in the future.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
How you spend your money shows your personality and values. I purchased velour pants from Adidas; a classic throwback look from the early 90s, some awesome socks, and a Glowbowl LED light that transforms your toilet into a nightlight.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
We use Trello, which is a kanban style project management tool that makes our strategies and tactics simple and streamlined. We have a separate blogs for our blog and general marketing efforts, can assign people to cards, add due dates, and label them depending on where they’re going.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
“Virtual Freedom”, by Chris Ducker. It aligns very well with the remote nature of e-commerce and the desire to optimize the way you work.
What is your favorite quote?
Every passing moment is another chance to turn it around. -Vanilla Sky
Chad Rubin on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/chadrubin
Chad Rubin on Twitter: @ecommrenegade
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.