Episode 185 Featuring Connor Curlewis

How This Ecommerce Framework Help Grow Businesses

How This Ecommerce Framework Help Grow Businesses

In today's episode, we talked to Matt Edmunson, CEO of Aurion Digital, an eCommerce Services business that takes away the pain and uncertainty of running an eCommerce business.


Things He Learned From Podcast Hosting

Matt Edmunson: Yeah, the podcast has been brilliant. I've been doing it for, I guess what, two coming up three years now. And like you say, kind of the people that you meet are extraordinary. The ability to network is quite extraordinary as a result. And I've found that really fascinating in terms of the doors that has opened to the point now where we haven't done it yet, but in the next I guess four months, we're about to launch a podcast agency. Just all the lessons that we've learned from it.

My experience Connor at is if you get good at anything in life, people often come to you and say, how did you do that? Eventually some of those people will pay you money to tell them how you did that. When you get really good at something. So it made sense actually to start doing the podcast agency, because the way that we benefit from it is not something that you normally see publicized.

And so I'm never really concerned, for example, who listens to the show, as opposed to who the guest is on the show. Do you see what I mean? It's like when you think about it slightly differently, like that you get access to a caliber of people, which is just unbelievable. And so we're gonna launch a new podcast in November. I'm saying that with a slight hesitancy, because I'm not entirely sure the date's been confirmed, but we're gonna do an new podcast in November.

Again, just love it. Love it as a medium, love it as a way to network, love it as a way to meet people. And so the second podcast is gonna be more leadership focused, which will put me in touch with people maybe slightly outside of the eCommerce sphere, which I think will be quite good. Yeah. Love it. Love it. Absolutely love it learned a lot. 

Connor: So when you say a podcast agency, is that like DTC people are gonna come to you and what is it gonna be like a course or is it gonna be like a mentoring call or? 

Matt Edmunson: No, the way we're gonna do it is we're gonna just do it as a done you service. So same basically we learn this with eCommerce. We have our own eCommerce businesses, but again, the same story after a while people come to you and say, how do you do what you do? You tell them, you do the coaching. And then after a while of doing coaching, the people that you do coaching with, come back to you and say, can you just do it for us? And so you end up doing it for them.

So you create this done for you business and that's what's happened with e-commerce, with one of our companies. So I anticipate it's gonna happen again with the podcast. I'm just going straight to them for you. so we're gonna aim it much more at leaders, CEOs, the guys that want podcasts, the guys that want to use it as a form of networking, because podcasting, as you know, opens doors, like nothing else I've seen to extraordinary people.

You know, I know a lot of CEOs, a lot of leaders who love the idea of podcasting, but go man alive. It scares me or I don't, I'm happy to sit to talk to people, but I don't wanna do X, Y, and Z. And so we're like, we'll just do that for you. We'll just do all the heavy lifting. And so we'll help them create the strategy. We'll help, 'em figure out what it is they want to get out of it, find the right guests and then we'll take care of most of it.

To be honest with you from production, graphic sounds, all that sort of stuff. The team that we've got over here is pretty good now from their e-commerce podcast. So yeah, we take care of all of that and we'll make it easy for the guys just to go, okay, I'm just gonna do this interview. And that's it. These guys take care of everything else. And so that's what we're gonna do. 

His backstory

Connor: So you've had your fingers in quite a few pies. I just was looking at your LinkedIn two weeks ago. It's quite impressive. Can you run me through your early life before you started working? Like, that's always an interesting story.

Matt Edmunson: Well, apart from the obvious, school, college and uni, one of the things that I did after I finished my a level, so I was 18. I went and lived in the States. I worked in a children's home. Took some time out and worked in a children's home, which was very unexpected. It's not what I expected to do. It was just the way it worked out is the reality of it.

And so I ended up working in North Carolina in a children's home in a small town that was very, very different to where I grew up in the UK and it just opened my eyes to go the world is bigger than me and it is bigger in this small part in which I live. It was a wonderful, wonderful experience. One that was just life changing. 

And so following that, I came back to uni, got involved in uni, met some of the most extraordinary people here in Liverpool. So I decided to stay. Met my wife here. My kids are all Scouts. And that was that. Before here that I volunteered for another year after uni and then I hit the workplace and I just knew straight away I was gonna be in business.

I mean, I'd known since I was a young guy, I suppose I was gonna do something. And so I managed to scrounge a job with well, actually I was offered the job with a friend of mine. He was an entrepreneur. He still is an entrepreneur actually. And we're still very, very good friends.

He now lives in New Zealand, fun enough, been over several times to see him. He was a businessman that I admired. And so I thought, you know what? I know nothing about business, so why don't I go work for him for a little while and get some kind of mentoring going on? And so I did, I worked for him for five years.

And then he eventually sold the business, which we built that's when he moved to New Zealand. And then that's when I went off and did new ventures. So that's yeah, my kind of backstory. 


Connor: What was your first startup? I've got it written down here. 10,000 pounds in sales in the first week, 400,000 pounds in the first year of your first eCommerce or, but did you have a startup before that? 

Matt Edmunson: Oh yeah, that was definitely not my startup. The first ever online business we did was called tan mad. And tan mad was literally just me in 2002, I'd been writing web code for maybe three or four years at this. And I'd been doing it on the side. I'd been growing my little bookkeeping business and I had, we started doing websites because that was a time when, you know, websites started taking off a little bit. And so I was doing these websites on the side, and then I thought, well, I'm just gonna this whole eCommerce thing seems interesting to me. So I thought I would thought, I'd give it a go. 

And so I first eCommerce website was called Tan mad and it was just literally me writing a bit of code to see whether or not I could make the code work. And I just called a friend of mine who I knew from. The years I was working with Simon, he sold tanning products and tanning as in sun tanning, not tanning as in leather, but there were these kind of lotions that you would, that people would put on their skin before going on sun beds to get a darker tan quicker.

Yeah, very, very Liverpool. And so I thought, well, I dunno anything about the product, but that was the only one that I could think of to source quickly, just to try an idea. And so I said to my friend, I said, do you mind if I had to sell those online? And I tell you what, I'll send you the address of somebody that orders it and you ship 'em out to them.

If that's okay, or you can ship 'em to me and then I'll ship 'em out. It's just an experiment. Yeah. And he was super cool. He was super gracious. He was like, yeah, sure, no problem, Matt. Let's do whatever. They ended up buying the website from me six months after launching. He bought it off me. 

So it was just one of those things. It sort of people started going online to buy tanning products. I mean, people started going online to buy everything. So we started to look at everything at this point. We looked at pet products. There was so many things that we tried chunk of them. We found out we did gift site. I mean, there was so many. Just so many things, but it was from, yeah, that was my sort of startup into eCommerce. 

Ecommerce in the early years

Connor: I mean, obviously I'm a lot younger than you. Can you tell me what it was like in the early two thousands? 

Matt Edmunson: Why? Why, why obviously? Yeah, the gray facial hair.

Connor: I've seen pictures and videos of old websites, but like, what was it like, what were like banner ads? Paid ads like back then? What was it like being an eCommerce store? 

Matt Edmunson: It was crazy. It was crazy complicated because no one. No one really knew anything about, I mean, if you think about what you had to do to take somebody's credit cards, we had, I dunno if you ever saw them, if your listeners are of a certain age, a certain demographic, they will know exactly what I mean, they used to be a machine, right?

That you would put a slip, you'd write the information in from the credit card on the slip. And then you'd cross it back and forth and it would make this really interesting noise. And then you would tear part of that slip of paper off and give it to. The customer and you'd tap part of the slip pay profiting. You'd give that to the bank. People would email it and affect their credit card numbers.

We would hand write out these credit card notes, swipe them in the machine. I'd have to send one off to the bank and I'd send one back to the customer. It was crazy when you think about now, you can just pay somebody with a mobile phone. You can just tap it. And the money's transferred. 

Connor: You had the whole CRV, you had the like security code. 

Matt Edmunson: Oh yeah. They give you the whole credit card. 

Connor: And then you are just trusted to go, whether it was 15 pounds. 

Matt Edmunson: Yeah. Basically. 

Connor: That's crazy. And you can see why grandparents get freaked out by phone calls and people asking them for their credit card.

Matt Edmunson: Yeah. I mean, you think about where it's come from. Because it just never ever happened. I mean, a lot of the orders that we would get back then people would send us checks, you know, they would they'd place the order online, but then they'd choose that. I'm gonna send you a check button. And so they post you a check. A piece of paper saying I promised to pay 10 men, 20 quid or whatever it was.

And so, yeah, it was very, very different. The world was not geared for selling online at all back then. And it was complicated to try and explain to people what you were doing. It really was, but people, I mean, it caught on pretty quick and everyone sort of caught up.

So I remember the first time you. You could just connect the credit card information straight to the bank and I didn't have to do anything. And it was like, oh wow, this is just brilliant. It just appears in my account several years, PayPal, what a revelation that was. So the things that we all take for granted now was, I mean, it is funny.

I was looking yesterday at some web code, a code for a website and the amount of code. Now on a webpage is unbelievable. The, the, the sheer quantity of code required, and you'll know this better than anyone with your, you know, with your theme. The code behind that is extraordinary. I mean, millions and millions of lines.

When I was writing websites, there was no JavaScripts. There was no CSS there. I mean it was hundreds of lines of code, not millions. I mean the amount of code make stuff. Was so much less, but then design wasn't so much of a big issue. People just were like, wow, there's a website. They wanted it quick because you know, like a computer in the cupboard, it had dial up, you couldn't, you wanted to get on and you wanted to get off because you had to pay the phone bill right. You got charged for every minute. You were online. 

And so there was no broadband. There was no high speed. Internet images really screwed everything up. And so, yeah, it was , it's a really phenomenal time, really, very basic but very quick lightweight websites. 

Connor: That's interesting that there's no images. That's like the worst social proof. You can't even see the product. 

Matt Edmunson: You'd put a very small thumbnail of the product on there, and then you'd have a link, which as click to see more, which no one would ever click. You'd have to download it. It would appear like a line at a time as it was down, it would take like five minutes to get the, I do remember that. Yeah. It was just crazy, proper, proper, crazy, and things that you had to do. Like if you wanted a menu say at the top of the page, you'd create a button in something called fireworks.

Fireworks was like state of the art software at this point. And fireworks was like a graphics program and you'd create the image in fireworks and then you'd slice it and you could slice this thing up and it would create the exact size image that you need. And then you'd go back to that image. You'd alter the image so that when on the computer code you'd have two images and that's how you did mouse overs.

And so it was like, we'll show this image here. But when, when it ho when someone hovers over it, show this image here and everyone's like, this is amazing this technology, which allows you to show somebody that they're hovering over something. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, man, crazy times, crazy times, but just good fun.

Connor: Now you can put augmented reality version of the product on your desk. 

Matt Edmunson: You can, and you know what, if you've seen that way back or something like that? 

Connor: Way back machine.

Matt Edmunson: Yeah. Not the original, original tan mad site on that but there is the second version of the tan mad site still on.

His first ecommerce business

Connor: So you're initially coding for these sites. I mean, I guess you were kind of just doing Jack of all trades. Was there a moment when you kind of realized I'm gonna bring people on I'm gonna become more of the leader or, you know, walk me through the chronology there. 

Matt Edmunson: Yeah. What happened was we employed a guy called Mark. Mark still works for me. He's still with me and Mark was fresh outta uni, fresh faced. Had an electronics degree a long time ago, 12, 15 years ago now. Like I say, we had this bookkeeping business, but we're also doing this sort of website stuff on the side.

I started to train Mark on writing computer code, cuz I was like, I need some help to do this. And so I was like, I'll just train mark on how to do it and how to use the software that we use, which was like dream Weaver and fireworks and stuff like this back at the time. And what happened was I think because Mark's Mark's brain is wired like a coders, his brain is wired if that makes sense. I think there's a certain wiring in people that gives them a real understanding of what's going. 

My son has it much more than me. And so it became apparent very quickly that mark mark was much better at coding than I was. And so I was like, this is awesome. So I just literally went like this to Mark. So it was about 2000. I'm guessing it was about 2008. 2009 when I sort of handed the reins over to mark and I wasn't really involved in anything, but I do little bits here and there, but I haven't coded properly.

For a long time, not in an eCommerce, not in anything that matters. Mark became our head of our head of design. And so that, that sort of started that journey really, but yeah, we were starting to get quite busy quite quickly. And so that's when we took on help. Mark's brilliant. Yeah. Like I say, still with us still writing all the websites then. 

Connor: Okay. Cool. So was that for tan mad or did you start jumping into other projects at that point?

Matt Edmunson: Yeah. So by this time, by the time mark had joined us, we were Jersey beauty company had started. And Jersey was really our first significant eCommerce site. It was the one that really sort of took off quite quickly and we started to get quite busy with it.

And so that's when we were like, okay, I mean, mark was with us at this point, he was doing a few bits and bobs, like Admin, but keep in, he was doing everything to be fair. We were a small business. There was only three of us. And he was one of them. But by the time Jersey hit and start to take off. And that's when mark in effect became full time on that website. And that's where he really to hone his programming skills for eCommerce.

Connor: How long did you run Jersey for, or, I mean, I know that it's still up, but like, when I look at your LinkedIn page, it's like Jersey present and then you've also got like Aurion. I'm not sure how you say it. And then you've also got curious. So like, when you are running this successful eCommerce story, are you going I'm gonna take on some more work I'm gonna branch out or what happened there that made you change?

Matt Edmunson: It's an interesting one. Isn't it? It's like I said earlier, you know, with Jersey, I don't own Jersey anymore. We sold that last year. One of our competitors bought Jersey, great guy, great company and you know, doing great things with it. And it's probably about time actually that they, that it had new leadership.

I'd been involved for 15 years. Yeah. Jersey was, is one of those things where you learn a lot. You have to learn a lot very quickly cuz you go from zero to a hundred miles an hour, like within three seconds. And so it's a great problem to have. Because there's so much chaos and it's just constant expansion.

At one point we were 54 staff. I mean, it was just going nuts. Just more, let's get more people in the warehouse, let's do this, this, and trying to keep hold of the reins of that. And so what happened was more and more people were coming to me and saying, how do I, how do you do what you do? And can I do it?

And so the first person that came to me and asked me that question, I said, well, let's have a go and see what happens. Let's see if I can help you. Right. And then the second person that came to me and asked me that question, I said, yeah, I can see how gonna help you, but I'm gonna charge you a little bit of money for it.

Cuz it worked last time and they were like, okay. And then I just kept increasing the amount of money. I charge people whenever they would come to me and ask for help. And so I think whenever you get good at something. Whenever you become an expert, I suppose, in a field, people are always curious about it and they always want to know how you do what you do.

And there's always a portion of people that will pay you for that knowledge. And not only do they pay you for your knowledge, they will pay you for your solutions. And so people wanted to start using our eCommerce platform. People wanted to start using our warehouse for fulfillment services. And so out of this one idea, Business Jersey.

Several things started to grow and everything started to grow well on its own. If that makes sense. So I didn't, I don't think I went looking for it, but it was a con I think it's a consequence of when you are good at something, there is an opportunity to share that and do that well. So, and you've seen this right.

Take Debutify. There is something which you have got, you're constantly getting better at it, and people are willing to pay you money to use your solution. Particular problem that they have, your whole business is built on that premise. And as you get better and better. You get more and more subscribers.

It's the way it is. It becomes like self-fulfilling prophecy in some respects. And so your growth curve is geometric and it was exactly the same, you know, with me in e-commerce it was, that was exactly what was happening. And we started dabbling all these different areas and it was just crazy but fun. 

His leadership strategy

Connor: So when you've run all of these things, like, do you have any models or concepts, you know, as a leader that you apply? 

Matt Edmunson: You do. And I think when we started with Jersey, I had in my head a loose framework, right. A theory of eCommerce want a better expression. And then when you start helping other people in your coaching, other people in eCommerce, that framework gets honed and you start to see it work in different industries and so you can get to prove it and understand it.

And so, yeah, a lot of the stuff that we use now in the business is stuff I guess that we've just learned in the trenches. And so I think there are seven key areas of eCommerce. I think there's a very definite eCommerce journey that people take. I use something called cycles, eCommerce cycles in our business, which really helps us keep focus, keep on track.

So yeah, there's a bunch of these things. And then for everything that you do in eCommerce, There's more rabbit holes to go down. So then you talk about marketing and you say, well, in our business, there are seven pillars of e-commerce marketing cause we know what they are. We know what they, we know how to define them and we know how to best utilize them.

And I think the more you are around growth, the more you start to try and understand what it is, the more you can create those frameworks. So yeah, we have a whole bunch of stuff, which I quite happily share, but I don't wanna bore you. 

Connor: I am interested in the leadership things. I'm interested in how you manage people. If somebody's concerned, if somebody's upset, like these are important parts of the business, you know, the business is made up of people.

Matt Edmunson: Yeah, it is. And if you didn't have people, you wouldn't have problems. Is a reality, you know? Yeah. Any problem you've got is usually rooted in people. You know, leadership is a really interesting idea and it's a really interesting concept, isn't it? And, and there are, I think there are different styles of leadership for different times.

So the classic one is the old command and control, which is very, very, very military, right? So I'm at the top of the chain and I'm telling the person next, you know, below me in that chain, What to do, and they're telling the person down there and it, it cascades down and you have these orders and it's like, you have to obey those orders because it's come from the top.

And so when I grew up in the eighties, this was the style of leadership in most companies, as in I'm the boss. You're the worker, you do what you are told, just be grateful. You've got a job, you know, those kind of things. I think the world's a very different place now. And there are some very different styles of leadership now.

And I think sometimes pendulums, you know, they swing don't they, and sometimes they swing too far the other way. And it I've been in organizations where. They were like, well, we don't actually want a lead out. We just wanna, we just wanna, you know, we'll work as a team flat hierarchy. Yeah. Yeah. And you're just kinda like, well, I get that.

I get why you'd want that. We even did it ourselves in Jersey for a little while, but fundamentally somebody's still at the end of the day needs to make a decision and they need to be accountable for that decision and they need to be behind it. Like with all these things, there's a happy medium that seems to work.

My general theories on leadership are if you treat people. How you want to be treated, they'll be your friends for life. Right. And if you don't, they're they're not interested. And so we always have, I say always one of the big lessons that we learned, especially when we had like 50 odd staff in the business, you always hire on the basis of values, not just competency.

We developed this thing where the way I explained it was I sort of drew a cross hairs on a piece of paper and on the vertical axis, I was tracking competence. And on the horizontal axis, I was tracking culture. If I looked at a person in the organization vertically, I would map out how competent are they at their job?

How good are they? And on the horizontal axis, I'd map out how aligned to the culture of the company. They were, and that gave you a really interesting quadrant. So you had people in the upper right quadrant. So these were very competent people and very culturally aligned people. These were your absolute superheroes.

These were the people that made a massive difference to your business. You looked after these people. So anybody in that superhero section, you just go, you know, whatever it takes, let's just make sure that, you know, things are working well here where a lot of businesses struggle is if you think about this quadrant.

So if you've got someone who's highly competent, but very low cultural alignment. So their top left quadrants. We call these guys and I appreciate this is not very PC. We called them terrorists. Because these were the guys that were archetypal salesperson. They were all about getting whatever it was they wanted. They were really good at their job but everybody else sod the consequences. We don't care about that department over there and what they've gotta deal with, because I've done this over here. I've done this over here because I'm really good at my job. Do you see what I mean? 

And these are the people that bosses are very, very reluctant to let go because they often are high performing. And so they don't necessarily wanna lose that performance in the industry, in their company, but really hand on hearts. They want to let them go. Cause they're terrorists in the organization. They cause mayhem and chaos, wherever they go. And so this was a really inter eye opening thing for me. And if you had people in the bottom right quadrant, so they were highly culturally aligned, but not very competent.

Well, so then the question was, well, can I train these people because I can't teach culture. You just can't. So I've got someone who fits a criteria of culture, but can I train them to get better? Yes or no. They became a really interesting pool of people for us. 

So there's a guy who works for us now, a guy called Josh he's just recently gone part-time right. So he's graphics, he's video. Okay. He's a really cool guy. Very hipster, lovely guy. I love the bones off him. Think he's awesome. Josh. Came to work for us because the coffee shop he was working at went, went under. And so he came and worked in the warehouse picking and packing, and it became really obvious to everybody from quite an early, you know, an early kind of time.

He was very culturally aligned with us. You know his values seemed to mesh with the values of the business quite well. And one day I just happened to be talking to Josh and. He mentioned to me that you had a real interesting graphic design and he did it at a level or something. And I said, well, have a go at this, see what you think it wasn't long before Josh transitioned out of the warehouse to doing graphics, to then doing video.

A lot of it is self-taught, he's not got any formal qualification, but it's actually really good. He's now gone part-time for us. And he's setting up his own graphic design business part-time and he's getting his own clients in. And for me, this is a brilliant story of someone who was very culturally aligned. And the question was, can we train them? Can we educate them and yes we can. And Josh has been much better for us as a company than me going hiring some graphic superstar at a crazy salary who was not culturally aligned with us as a business. Does that make sense? 

Connor: No. It makes complete sense. I've actually had the same trajectory at Debutify. The thing that you are doing, and the thing that Ricky is doing as the CEO is that like you are showing Josh and me, you value loyalty. And you're gonna reward that loyalty and you're going to give him a break. He's working in the warehouse. He's like, this is kind of okay, but I've got dreams of aspirations. He tells you that and you go, well, I'll give you a shot. I'll give you some time, paid time to grow. So he's probably gonna stick around with you for a while because he's gonna remember that and be grateful for it. Yeah. And he's gonna make good videos for it. 

Matt Edmunson: Yeah. And guy's a legend. You know, it's an absolute legend, love having him around and I it's good to be helping him with his business. So by the way, if anyone who's any graphic design won, let me know. Cuz Josh is freelancing. He's a cool guy. but no, I mean, it's awesome to be able to tell those stories, you know, and so I would say 90% of the people we've employed have been phenomenal people because we.

We moved to this system of tracking culture. The way that we did this was really funny. Whenever we advertised a job. And I remember once we advertised a job, got 400 applications, what am I supposed to do with 400 applications? It's just crazy. Make them run a race. Yeah, I should do something like that.

So what we did was we said, right, well, when we advertise a job in future, we're gonna give people an application form to fill in. And so that's just gonna be our stand response. And so out of those 400 people going forward, probably 350 of them. Won't be bothered to fill out the application cause that's gonna require some effort, right?

It's not just a case of sending me an email and a blank CV or whatever it is, you know, I just it's gonna require some effort on their part. So that's what we did. And in the application form, because we wanted the application form was all about testing values rather than competence. And so we were asking questions like, what was the last book you read?

What did you get outta that book? If you were gonna be a superhero. Who would you be? What would your name be? Yeah. What would your superpowers be? And here's a box to draw the costume of you as a superhero. I would love to see what that looks like. Right. So people are gonna get this application form and go.

What in the world am I there's just, and those people that wouldn't fill it in were never gonna be culturally a fit for us as a company. And so this became a very, it filtered people out now ended. It was really amazing. And I remember one guy. I remember once I was in Jersey on the island of Jersey. And I got a phone call from a lady called who used to work for us and beautiful lady.

She called me up and said to me, Matt, you are not gonna believe what's going on here. Now. I want you to know we were advertising a marketing job at this point. Right? And so people had applied for the job. We'd send them back the application form, say, listen, don't send it your CV. I don't care. I just want you to fill this in as a first port of call, right?

The day that she called me. Deadline day. So it was a closing day for people to, to submit their application form. And this was really before FaceTime was a thing and zoom calls were a thing, cuz it was a shame really, but she called me and said, you are not gonna believe what it is I am seeing. And she said, I'm gonna describe to you what I'm seeing.

And so she said outside the office is somebody knocking on the door or ringing the bell, dressed up as bat. And Batman has in his hands, a case of cupcakes. And so they went down and answered the door to Batman with the cupcakes, and basically sawed who had applied for the job had convinced their friend to dress up his Batman and to deliver their applications with the cupcakes.

All based on this superhero stuff that we were asking about in the application form and I thought, wow, that's memorable. And so I guess she didn't wanna dress up as Batman. I don't know. But yeah, it was just fascinating to me that just like I say, when you put stuff out there and said, like, these are our values, these are our culture. You'll get people who really vibe with that and you'll get people who won't and the people who won't. You just don't want to employ them. And so Batman, Batman came to the door with a job application. 

Connor: Yeah. That's a good leadership lesson. 

Matt Edmunson: If you wanna be a good leader, being a good leader, 90% of it is having a good team. If you've got good people to lead, they bring out the best in you and you bring out the best in them. If you've got crazy people, which you are leading, or you've got people who are just, they don't care. If people don't wanna be led and I don't care how good a leader you're always gonna struggle. Right. Half the battle is hiring good people. 

How Aurion Digital Works

Connor: So with Aurion, you've got the Jersey framework and the CoLab project. If I'm a guy coming in, I wanna grow, learn things from you. How can you explain how those things work? 

Matt Edmunson: Yeah, it does have the framework, the Jersey, what was called the Jersey framework. We don't call it the Jersey framework anymore because I'm not allowed to use the term Jersey since I'm sold Jersey. So we just call it the eCommerce framework. Now I'm sure actually, Mark, the guy that bought the business wouldn't have an issue with it. So yeah, we've got the framework.

If people wanna learn stuff, the podcast is a great place to go. You know, there's a lot of eCommerce learning there and we're just about to launch something called cohort for a number of years. I did. Something called the eCommerce masterclass, which was basically an online course that people could come and I would walk them through the framework in the course, and it was great.

And we had loads of people go through it. Lots of good reviews. But the thing about online courses is I'm just not convinced they work that well. I have to be honest having looked at the stats, you know, not just from my course, but for. All the online courses, since COVID, since you know, the whole thing with lockdown.

And so cohorts is, it's a much better space, I think, because what it is, it's a monthly sprint. We call them lightweight guided monthly sprints. And so every month you, we focus on one specific area of eCommerce. And that area is different in, in every month. It follows a framework, which means you don't get siloed in eCommerce, which was, that was my biggest danger with Jersey beauty company in 2012.

I nearly lost everything overnight. It happened because we were, we were turning over millions every year, but 95% of our sales were through one particular brand. Of product. And at the start of 2012, that brand came to us and said, we're changing our pricing policy. So from now on going forward, the idea is the more you buy, the more you pay.

And given that I was their biggest world, well, one of their biggest worldwide customers that had tremendous impact, it meant that. Our prices went up by 30% overnight. And I just, you know, customers started to sort of disappear. We lost 50% of our business within a couple of months of them making that decision.

And whilst I can, you know, at the time I was very angry with the supplier and I can sit here and wax lyrical about the bizarreness of it or the genius of it. I'm not quite sure which one it is still. What I can do is I can sit here and say, you know what? As an eCommerce business, we got siloed, we became really, really good at one or two things.

And I neglected all the other areas of eCommerce. And as a result of that, when those suppliers came along, we were just unprepared. And it nearly cost as everything. And so this is part of the reason why for me, the framework is a big deal. Why cohort is a big deal where we go through that framework. And because I never, as a business want to get siloed again, I never want to, to have that happen.

I've seen it happen, not just for me, but for countless of the businesses around the world, actually. And so cohort takes you through these sort of areas of eCommerce. We folks like Sam, one specific area every month, it's all at your own learning. It's pretty lightweight, light touch its mixture of coaching and workshops, peer to peer learning.

And that for me is the best way to get. I'm really proud of it to be fair. And then how it's gonna work. I think it's sort of it's online courses, but much better. If that makes sense. Part of the problems you've got courses is when you buy an online course, like our masterclass was nine hours of teaching.

You look at that and you go, when am I gonna fit nine hours into my life to watch this? Right? Because everyone's really busy. So there's overwhelmed because not only have you gotta watch it, you've then gotta figure out how in the hell am I gonna take that and apply it to my business. I mean, it's great what you're saying, but how's that work for me?

And so there's all these issues that people have. So we were like, well, what would happen if we all that teaching and we just did like a 30 minute coaching session at the start of a sprint. And it's not really, we're not really telling you our theory of stuff. We're asking you questions about your business a bit like I do when do coaching and consulting and it's so you can understand how these things work for your business.

We got, we are gonna do workshops. So we get experts that come in. So you just take influence in marketing. We were talking about this earlier, which is why it's sort of top of mind, but you take something like influence marketing. So we'll have an, an expert in influencer marketing, do a workshop, which will be like a max sort of 45 minute, hour, long session, but it'll be broken into sort.

10 minute segments, if that makes sense.

So again, very bite size, very accessible. We're gonna do live Q and A with the experts. And then you'll sort of the end of the sprint, like the final week of the sprint is right. I've got a list of actions that I want to implement in my business. This is what I know.

I need to do for influencer marketing. So you post those to the group, you post those to community and there's the support and feedback that comes with that from your peers. Right. Which go, oh yeah. That's that's great. Have you thought about this so I can put you in touch with that personal so on. And so, and so that everyone's there to try and help you do we're there to try and help each other do better in their business. 

And for highly motivated individuals, they still work and they still work well, I still buy courses. I still am involved, but I rarely complete them. And I just go for the bit that I'm interested in, whereas these sort of cohort type things that I've been in.

I'm just like these things are brilliant. They're, they're much more lightweight, much more like touch. They don't demand of as much of me, but I get much more results out of it. And it's an ongoing monthly thing. So this month I might not wanna do any, if you're like me, I take August off. That's my thing. I'm take August off so far. Well, if I take all stuff, that's fine. I'll just miss the sprint for this month. It's not a problem. And I'll pick it up next month. It's not like I've missed, you know what I mean? It's, it's stuff that fits around me and my business. And so I think it's much more accessible and I think you get much better results at the end of it, but that's me. That's how I learn. And that's how I get the most out of these types of things.

His coaching experience

Connor: When you are teaching or coaching eCommerce CEOs. Do you find that, like you just said, like people learn differently. Like, do you have to, you know, be a bit kind of hard line on some people cuz there must be young arrogant guys like me who just think they know how to do everything? 

Matt Edmunson: To be fair. Most of the people you do coaching with they're not eCommerce CEOs. There's some misconception, so they tend to be just CEOs. And so what tends to happen is you have a company like Chandra, for example, they're a client of mine. They're a pharmaceutical company and eCommerce is part of what they do. So Chandra gets me involved to help the eCommerce team.

And he's the CEO. He doesn't understand an awful lot eCommerce. He knows he needs to understand it. He knows his business needs to be better in it. And so he comes to me and says, right, we need your help. I need your help. Getting this team set up. I need your help. Getting. I'm running. This is what I need to know.

They tend to be better clients. I think for us, we don't tend to get many startups coming to us for consulting because it's quite an expensive thing. You get startups watching the course, although, you know, maybe become part of the cohort. This is why I'm excited about cohort, because I think if you're an eCommerce, entrepreneur cohort is ideal.

But again I get it that, you know, a lot of us are in eCommerce. We're like, especially if our business is good and growing, it's like, why do I need a catch? Why do I need consulting? I just, I just don't. I just, I know what I'm doing. I need to be telling you what to do. You don't need to be telling me what to do.

It tends to be people who are slightly removed from it. And I'm just thinking through clients now, they all tend to be slightly older. As in, they're not in their twenties. You do go through this phase in like, certainly I I'm talking from my point of view. Yeah. You go through this when you are 18, sort of in your early twenties.

I know everything. I just know everything. And then I got married and I found out, I didn't know, everything fact far from it. And then I had kids and I, I realized I knew even less. And I thought I knew. And so now I'm in my forties. I'm, like's actually not a whole great deal that I do know what I know.

Now I know well and one of the things I know well, is that to acknowledge the fact that I don't know stuff and go and get help in that area, which is why I still buy courses. It's why I still do coaching. We have a podcast agency, but I still go and get podcast coaches to come to us and coaches and how we deal our podcast, because I realize actually, it's a beautiful thing to do.

And the coaches and consultants just like you with your videos, they just know how to ask the right questions and the questions aren't rocket science. When you say to them, how do you want someone to feel when they watch the video? This is not like an earth shattering question. Is it? I mean it's and to you, it's obvious. And in fact, the guy you asked the question in, if he thought about it for 30 seconds, it becomes obvious to him and he sits and he goes, oh man, why am I not thought about that? Of course, it's obvious. I need to understand what it is. They wanna feel.

But I've just not answered because you become so tunnel, visioned and focused in what you are doing. And I think a good coach, good consultant just gets you to lift your head and ask you questions, which, you know, you should be asking yourself, but for whatever reason you don't, when it's your own business.

Connor Curlewis
Connor Curlewis

Former Content Producer

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