Jon Tilley
On Starting A Subscription-Based Amazon Tool
ZonGuru
from Los Angeles, CA, USA
started May 2016
2
Founders
25
Employees
49.1K
alexa rank
7.69K
followers
market size
$581B
avg revenue (monthly)
$23.5K
starting costs
$20.8K
gross margin
83%
time to build
12 months
growth channels
Pay Per Click Advertising
best tools
Google Analytics, Paypal, YouTube
time investment
Full time
pros & cons
37 Pros & Cons
tips
3 Tips
Discover what tools Jon reccommends to grow your business!
platform
email
customer service
social media
productivity
payments
other
Discover what books Jon reccommends to grow your business!
Start An Amazon Software Business

Hello! Who are you and what are you working on?

I am Jon Tilley, the co-founder, and CEO of ZonGuru. We are an all-in-one software toolset that helps Amazon sellers grow through data insights and automation.

At present, we are the first Amazon tool suite fully compatible with Amazon North America, Europe, Australia, and India – the biggest and fastest-growing markets in the Amazon ecosystem right now. We serve customers globally, sell globally!

on-starting-a-subscription-based-amazon-tools

What's your backstory and how did you get into entrepreneurship?

Back in 2014, I was at the pinnacle of a 13-year career as a digital strategist at an advertising agency. But all my life, I have had what I can now fondly call Entrepreneurship FOMO. I always had this strong desire to step out of my routine job, no matter how successful I was at it, and scratch my “what if” itch and launch a business.

It took a chance run-in with a conference in Vegas that got me going with building products to sell on Amazon.com.

I had a lightbulb moment, understanding that we are all in this amazing position where we can create and grow a world-class product business that makes money every hour of the day. It’s such an awesome concept that we can create a brand and make money while we sleep, never physically meeting our manufacturers or customers who might be living anywhere in the world.

Fast forward a year later, and I packed my office box up and said goodbye to the 9-5, welcoming 24/7.

In 2015, my cofounder Adam and I saw the massive potential of building a SaaS business around Amazon sellers. Simply put, there was a huge need for visualizing data in the right way to help sellers grow and automate their Amazon businesses.

ZonGuru was launched in early 2016 as a bootstrapped business. We grew it profitably for 4 years and have now partnered with a VC firm to propel us into the next stage of our journey in this rapidly growing and exciting industry.

We’ve grown this SaaS business on the back of a passion to help the young and old build a scalable business selling products on the world’s biggest e-commerce platform, which has the ability to create true financial freedom for anyone and everyone. What’s even better, you don’t need a formal education; just a strong bout of curiosity, the willingness to learn, love for the hustle, and consistent execution of the day-to-day plans. That’s it!

Take us through your entrepreneurial journey. How did you go from day 1 to today?

It started with bootstrapped MVP software that we have rebuilt 3 times over the years. As they say, you always need to keep optimizing–ha!

Preserve curiosity and never let it die. It’s the single most important trait of entrepreneurs that helps them keep growing.

Small 3-5 person meet-ups in the back of a bar, was how we got our first customers, all the way through to today, where we present to 5,000 sellers a few times a year. You’ll also find us at many virtual events, having an audience of 10,000 sellers or more.

on-starting-a-subscription-based-amazon-tools

We have a global customer base, and a global team spread across 15 countries to support them. Our offices are located in Los Angeles, Sofia Bulgaria, Gold Coast Australia, Hong Kong, and Singapore.

Success comes with a focused quarterly, monthly, and weekly plan for each business unit: Marketing, Engineering, Product, Biz Dev, and Customer Success. We do this religiously and stick to our plan and goals.

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

We have done well to build a bootstrapped, profitable business in such a short time. As I mentioned earlier, our next phase is to partner with a VC to disrupt this exciting industry further and supercharge our growth potential. We aim to reinforce our growth not only in the USA, but in Europe, Australia, India, and China too.

So far, we have had healthy gross margins. We are now focused on growing our ARPU and retention metrics over the next few years. Interestingly, our average CAC gives us the ability to break even at 3 months. We believe it’s the right mix for our type of product and audience.

On the social front, we have come a long way too. Our Facebook group boasts 3.3k+ members, with weekly engagements of over 1700. That’s decent, considering we only rebranded it last year.

What have been some of the biggest drivers of our growth? Collaborative partnerships and effective organic traffic strategies have definitely helped. And, of course, a super-strong product that continues to provide unique value to sellers.

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

“Enjoy the ride”. This is critical. Have a constant reminder for yourself and your team that although this is an important and serious “gig” it must always be fun. Otherwise, what is the point??!! Find the fun in winning at your game.

Also, “Value” trumps “effort” when it comes to delivery metrics. This has been one of my most important business learnings. Focus on the work that delivers the most impact to reaching your goals. It isn’t necessarily about the largest amount of effort. In fact, it’s rarely so.

On the practical front, ensure you track your data internally so you can make the best-informed decisions on what is most impactful. Use the I.C.E method to rate projects: Impact, Confidence, Effort. It really helps in that regard.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

  • Mix Panel – Product analytics software for valuable customer insights
  • Trello – Project management
  • Intercom – Customer service tool
  • Profitwell – To track financial and subscription metrics
  • Google Analytics – To strategize for the digital
  • Hotjar – For web behavior analytics
  • Notion – Team collaboration
  • Slack – Team communication and announcements

Just a few!

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

While there are many, I’d like to mention one in particular, Traction by Gino Wickman. It’s a must-read for every entrepreneur. It teaches you how to envision strategic goals, get alignment from your team, measure impact, and enable consistent execution of weekly and monthly goals across your organization.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting?

Vision, Standards, Consistency, Recruitment. Live and die by this.

Have a vision. Set your standards and lead by example. Be focused and consistent. And recruit the right team to build your vision. Hire based on values, not skillset. Skills can be taught, values can’t.

Preserve curiosity and never let it die. It’s the single most important trait of entrepreneurs that helps them keep growing.

on-starting-a-subscription-based-amazon-tools

Where can we go to learn more?

-  
Jon Tilley,   Founder of ZonGuru
Pat Walls,  Founder of Starter Story

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