💸🧯 Turning Mafia Money into Amazon Gold

NOTE: If you don’t see images below, be sure your email reader loads remote images

READY TO PLAY SOME INFO-BINGO? I HAVE ALL YOUR NUMBERS
  • 🏆 This week’s Billion Dollar Dream 100 inductee

  • 🪦 The 10 profit killers of Amazon FBA

  • ☠️ Peter, meet Paul. Now, Paul please rob Peter.

  • 🦈 An e-commerce seller intervention

  • 🌴 The honeymoon capital of the world

  • ⚖️ FTC files antitrust lawsuit against Amazon

⚖️ FTC FILES ANTITRUST LAWSUIT AGAINST AMAZON

On Tuesday, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), backed by the attorneys general of 17 states, filed an antitrust lawsuit against Amazon. The suit accuses Amazon of “a set of interlocking anticompetitive and unfair strategies to maintain its monopoly power.”

The FTC says “Amazon’s actions allow it to stop rivals and sellers from lowering prices, degrade quality for shoppers, overcharge this party sellers, stifle innovation, and prevent rivals from fairly competing.”

Amazon’s control of the online commerce market in the USA is about 40%. The suit claims that Amazon illegally overcharges third-party sellers and inflates prices.

While still a student at Yale Law School, FTC chair Lina Khan published an essay examining the anticompetitive nature of businesses like Amazon, arguing that focusing on consumer prices alone does not address the problems of consolidation and monopoly.

Key Accusations and Points:

  • The FTC claims Amazon uses its market power to pressure sellers and distort product prices.

  • Sellers pay about half of their earnings to Amazon, leading to higher prices for consumers not only on Amazon but across the internet.

  • The FTC alleges:

    • Amazon discourages sellers from offering discounts and pricing goods below Amazon’s listed prices.

    • Amazon encourages sellers to use its fulfillment services, making it costly for them to sell products elsewhere.

  • Khan emphasized Amazon's monopolistic strategies and their combined exclusionary effects on the market.

  • In defense, Amazon's senior VP for global public policy, David Zapolsky, stated that the challenged practices have spurred competition, innovation, and benefits for both customers and businesses.

    Further reading:

    → Read the full 172 page lawsuit

    → Read Amazon’s official response to the lawsuit

    Amazon Punishes Seller over 5¢, Echoing FTC Case

    → Read Paul Rafelson’s thoughts (Seller Basics lawyer)

STUMP BEZOS

How much did Google pay Apple in 2022 to be the iPhone’s default search engine?

[ Answer at bottom of email ]

💸🧯 TURNING MAFIA MONEY into AMAZON GOLD

The mob is ready to “help” Amazon businesses grappling with cash crunches.

It goes something like this …

Kevin, meet Paul.

Paul take from Kevin.

Then break his knees.

I started Amazon FBA in 2015, investing $200,000 alongside a silent investor.

One of my first products was a big hit: an $89 Apple charging dock I personally designed and developed (see photo). Sales hit $25K+ per day during the 2015 holidays.

Selling $25K+ per day, but cash flow was an issue

Despite high margins ($23 landed cost against $89 selling price), cash flow was a major challenge. To maintain stock right before Christmas, I had to rush order 6,000 more units from my factory in Shenzhen, costing about $155K landed.

All my free cash was locked up in other inventory.

I had the margins, so the extra air freight cost was worth it to avoid losing momentum. Any interest, even if high, could be absorbed to maintain rank.

Traditional financing avenues, like Amazon Lending, were inaccessible. Banks scoffed at my Amazon venture, and my "rich" uncle wasn’t so affluent.

My only option was MCA lending, which deposits cash in 24-48 hours. They’re technically "advances" not “loans,” with many operating from New York.

They demanded a pre-signed default judgment BEFORE sending the money (see below). This made defaulting risky—they could seize everything.

These "mafia loans" were predatory. Similar deals still exist today.

Sign & notarize this FIRST - then we will give you some money

I juggled money from companies like Yellowstone, Pearl, Kabbage, Kickfurther and PayPal, accumulating 17 loans in total. Most demanded daily repayments, requiring pay back in full within 42-60 weekdays. (DON’T use these)

Stacking loans became necessary, resulting in daily repayments of $9K. The vicious cycle, coupled with their “factor” rates, was entrapping.

Thousands of dollars in fees are deducted from the initial deposit - origination, risk assessment, ACH setup, UCC filing fees and more. If you miss a payment or change bank accounts there is a $5,000 fine.

I never missed a payment.

Juggling these and an expensive wedding simultaneously, I sought legal counsel in 2017 from an MCA specialist. He told me since these were not legally loans, it would not affect my credit if I defaulted. But expect some of them to be aggressive collectors.

Following my attorney’s advice, I drained my accounts and put loads of cold bundled cash in my safe. I had future payments go to someone else for a bit.

I opened a “secret” bank account with a small balance added to only as needed in a credit union. It was in a podunk town outside Austin so the mafia couldn’t find it in a radius sweep.

Then I closed my main bank accounts. No more daily ACH withdrawals.

I braced for the confrontations. Of my seven MCA loans, some were settled at a heavy discount, but some pursued me fiercely. My Amazon account was liened.

Ultimately, I had to stop selling a couple brands and repayments neared $1,000,000, half of that being "interest." I paid everything off.

Ain’t it fun being an entrepreneur with a hot product and successful business?

You have to be careful - there are some bad options out there even today that look good on the surface, as you will see further down in today's newsletter.

P.S.

This wasn’t my first mafia encounter in business - that was 25 years prior.

It involved cocaine, exploding cars, pretty girls and FEDEX insider shenanigans. Look for that story in a future newsletter. 😉

Welcome Destaney Wishon to the Billion Dollar Dream 100

Every Thursday I announce a new member of the Billion Dollar Dream 100. These are the people you should follow and get to know in our industry.

Destaney Wishon is today’s inductee into the Billion Dollar Dream 100.

She began as an intern at an e-commerce startup and within six months was handling a $10 million brand budget.

Hailing from Bentonville, Arkansas, Destaney’s expertise in Amazon advertising soon caught attention on LinkedIn.

Her distinct "red dress" photo and regular insightful posts have garnered over 36,000 followers. 

Photo created by one of Destaney’s followers

As the CEO and co-founder of Better AMS, established in 2018, she guides her team in optimizing various sponsored campaigns for e-commerce businesses.

Her recent session with Jeff Cohen at the Amazon Accelerate Conference in Seattle was so popular many couldn't find seating - more than 90 people got turned away.

Destaney will be a keynote speaker at BDSS 10 in Hawaii next May, and has recently been appointed to the Prosper Show Advisory Council.

Welcome Destaney, to the Billion Dollar Dream 100.

SPONSOR SPOTLIGHT

💰 BILLION DOLLAR STRATEGIES
  what you need to know to make moolah

E-COMMERCE SELLER INTERVENTION

Bill D’Alessandro, who introduced the e-commerce aggregator model and has sold seven companies, is now developing an all-natural dog products company

He warns sellers against predatory "fixed fee" merchant cash advance (MCA) loans from firms like Wayflier, 8Fig, Shopify Capital, and PayPal, highlighting their exploitative interest rates.



While these loans are promoted as affordable with phrases like "borrow $100,000 at JUST 9%", the actual blended APR over 6 months can reach 104%.

That's about 4X more expensive than carrying a balance on a typical credit card.

Since you pay back a % of sales each day, your first repayment is made one day after borrowing the money.

Embedded in a 6-month "fixed fee" loan are actually 180 "mini-loans" of different lengths, one for each day you make a repayment.

If you want to pay “true interest” - meaning you only pay interest on money you actually use, try a company like AccrueMe or SellersFi (not affiliate links). They are who I use now when I need e-commerce funding.

Bill has graciously shared two Google Sheets calculators that will show you the true APR for common seller loans.

#1 For daily repayments
#2 For monthly repayments

BONUS TIP: Another great resource is Arnold Shields free 4-year cash flow projection sheet.

Download the sheet here. Then watch the explainer video on how to use it.

☠️ YOU GOTTA SEE THIS

Around 3% of your gross sales can be lost due to these profit killers on Amazon.

However, this loss isn't just 3%. A 3% profit on $1,000,000 sales is $30,000. When selling your business, this $30,000 can translate to an additional $90,000, given a 3x multiple.

If you’re not already, you should be using Helium 10’s new Managed Refund Service, Refund Genie, Getida or Seller Investigators to manually re-coop as much of the money in the list above as possible.

🛠️ FEATURED TOOLS and RESOURCES
 → all the kool kids use these

EXPLORE AMAZON SEARCH TRENDS by BRAND or KEYWORD

As you know, Amazon’s product ranking algorithms are the primary gateway to consumers. The Velocity by Momentum Commerce Amazon Brand Index reveals which brands are winning on Amazon and to what extent they rely on Amazon advertising to do so.

Some of the Velocity data requires an account for the reports, but you can run several free reports on categories, brands and search terms for free.

For example, for the the category “dogs”:

SOV is “share of voice” - top brands for the category “dogs”

🗣️ COMMUNITY SHOUT-OUTS
 → Tidbits from readers who share the newsletter

🤠 SELLERS SHOWDOWN: THINK TANK EXTRAVAGANZA IN JERSEY

On October 18th in Eatontown, NJ, The eCom Cooperative (TECO) is hosting a roundtable event for Amazon sellers featuring their signature think tank style, food, a bar, and networking opportunities.

Kevin King will reveal some hacks, then audience members will compete in a hack contest to win prizes, including a $5,000 ticket to the Billion Dollar Seller Summit in Hawaii next May.

Participants will present their hack in 3 minute slots, followed by an audience vote. The exclusive tips and strategies shared are sure to be invaluable.

Space is limited - secure a spot today. First 20 SELLERS to signup get in FREE with code: BDSN.

Want to be featured in this section? Refer at least 10 active subscribers, then email me to get your event, course, webinar or tool “Shouted-Out” free.

🧳 TO TRAVEL IS TO LIVE 
here’s looking at you kid

My “why” has led me to visit 94 countries and all 7 continents. I create my life and work around my why. Not my why around my business.

I hope to inspire you in your journey of business and life with photos, a short video I filmed, and a brief description of my time there.

The Honeymoon Capital of the World

3 minutes in Bora Bora & Moorea

The world’s top 3 rated romantic destinations:

  1. Bora Bora, French Polynesia: Known for its crystal-clear waters, luxury overwater bungalows, and stunning sunsets.

  2. Maldives: Comprising 26 atolls, it's popular for private island resorts, underwater dining, and coral reefs teeming with marine life.

  3. Santorini, Greece: Famous for its caldera views, sunsets, blue-domed churches, and romantic atmosphere.

Tahiti lies in the Polynesian cultural belt stretching from New Zealand to Hawaii, situated halfway between Los Angeles and Australia.

French Polynesia is 200+ islands. Visitors land on the main island of Tahiti before traveling to outer islands like Moorea and Bora Bora.

It’s iconic for idyllic romantic getaways and for the world's first over-the-water bungalow at the Hotel Bora Bora in 1961.

Moorea is famous for its stunning landscapes, drawing a mix of families and budget honeymooners.

In Moorea, you can stay in a basic beach bungalow for as little as $150/night. The island offers activities like sea kayaking and has scenic drives showcasing wild roosters, chickens, pineapple farms, and fresh fruit stalls.

Bora Bora, in contrast, boasts breathtaking water views, and a stunning boat ride from the airport to your hotel. It attracts mostly honeymooners.

Bora Bora’s unforgettable experience is the over-the-water villa (usually $1,000+ per night). Villas, accessed by wooden walkways, have features like windows on the floor to view fish swimming beneath your feet.

🥃 PARTING SHOT

“Losers visualize penalties of failure. Winners visualize rewards of success.”

The answer to today’s STUMP BEZOS is
$20 billion dollars