Episode 202 Featuring Alex Bond

Strategic Sourcing and Product Development with Kian Golzari

Strategic Sourcing and Product Development with Kian Golzari

Kian Golzari is the Founder of Sourcing with Kian and one of the world’s leading sourcing experts who has personally visited over 500 factories and sourced over 2,500 products. On this episode, we discuss sourcing strategies, product development, learning from experience, and much more.


How Kian got into sourcing and product development

Kian Golzari: Yeah, I guess I was really lucky cause I found my passion from a very early age.

I went to China for the first time in 2010 on a sourcing trip, and basically I started off in a family business. So my dad started a brand in the uk called Highlander. I grew up in Scotland, so the outdoors is what we have. So we have an outdoor brand which makes like camping and outdoor goods. So outdoor tents, backpack, sleeping bags outdoor furniture, cook sets, all that sort of stuff.

And then my dad said to me, hey, when you graduate university, do you wanna come with me to China and you know, learn all all about the source and stuff? I was like, yeah, absolutely. Because I'd seen my dad from a young age always go to China, and this is well before I was like a developed country. And he always brought back these like really strange gifts and things like that.

And I was told all these stories about, hey, this is what happens in China and here are these products I just developed. And as a kid I would work in the warehouse and pack boxes and and stuff like that. So from a young age I had this curiosity of like, you know, what goes on in China? So when I went there for the first time in 2010, like my mind was blown and that just became my passion.

And I was very lucky because the first factory I ever went to was a backpack factory. And for anyone who's listening. Been to a factory before you, you know what I'm gonna say is that like the first time you see a product being made in front of you, it's a very eye-opening experience in terms of you would associate like a backpack with just one unit in a retail store on a shelf.

But when you see it in a factory, you see it in 30 different pieces, like the foam that goes in the shoulder straps, the shoulder straps, the webbing, the zippers, the buckles, the pullers, inside lining, the waterproof, coating, all that stuff, and you see it being assembled. And now in your head when you're like, okay, I've got a $15 product and you need to make it a $12 product.

You've got 30 different calculations you can make in your head in terms of how to reduce the cost or how to improve the quality because you've seen it go through that process. Since that happened to me in 2010, I've just had a absolute passion for this. That was supposed to be a two week trip. Ended up staying for three months.

I set up an office there, then I went back to Scotland, got my things, and then I moved there and I lived in China for several years, and then I went to over 500 factories and developed over two and a half thousand products. So I'm very, very lucky. I found my calling. And early age, and I've been doing that for 12 years now.

Alex Bond: That's amazing. Had you always kind of been obsessed with that sort of process of seeing items broken down? I mean, that's kind of like a, I don't know, an engineering acumen is what that sounds like to me. 

Kian Golzari: No, not really, man. I never studied engineering or anything like that. Like I studied business at school and I just had a passion for like entrepreneurship.

But then just seeing a product, I think there's a difference between like liking what you do and then being good at what you. And being able to spend so much time, in fact in factories and understand the culture and understand like how to deal with these factories, how to negotiate prices, how to develop products. And after I describe it as like reps in the gym, right? 

If you do like a hundred pushups for 10 years, you're gonna be pretty strong, right? Simp like sourcing, you develop enough products and visit enough factories, you're gonna be pretty good at what you do. But not many people do that to be honest.

A lot of people just go on alibaba.com, they find their product, they make mistakes, they get the wrong prices, they get terrible quality, and then they're just stuck because they haven't been to China, they haven't been to factories, they haven't got a frame of reference in terms of how to develop these products and how to build these relationships.

So I think I very, very much enjoy it. Plus, I realized quite quickly that. I'm getting really good at this. And from there I was able to manufacture for the Olympics, the United Nations Ministry of Defense NBA, all these guys. A lot of retail stores and a lot of Amazon and Shopify sellers as well.

You know, people ask me all the time like, oh, how'd you supply so many different companies? And it's like, Once you can do the common denominator of getting the absolute best quality from the absolute best factory at the absolute best price, you can supply anyone that you want.

And because I'd spent so much time in China, cause I'd had an office there, it was really easy for me to sort of really get the best quality, best prices. And then as a result, I was able to work with lots of different cool companies and entrepreneurs. 

Working with the UN, Olympics, and NBA

Alex Bond: No, that's great. I mean, that I was gonna ask in a kind of a different way was, you know, with that track record of the un, the Olympics, the NBA, I think on your website you even mentioned working with Kobe. Rest in peace. 

How did you get into contact with these people? I know it's kind of like the work speaks for itself, but even then, you still have to find a way to kind of like rub elbows with them or get in contact with them. I noticed pictures of you with Tony Robbins and Kevin Durant and stuff like that. So how do you, you know, work with these people and institutions? But you know, more importantly, land contracts with them. If you wanna expound on that a little bit. 

Kian Golzari: Yeah, yeah, for sure. And it's like, it's very multi-dimensional because like they all came about in different ways. So for the Olympics, we were a Scottish business, right? So the Scottish government said, hey, the Olympics is coming to London in 2012. There's an opportunity for UK companies to manufacture them. Do you want to be put on that tender list to apply? And we were like thinking, yeah, cool, but there's loads of companies bigger than us. Like, yeah, we'll never get it.

But yeah, let's try see what happens. And then it started off as 200 companies, then it went down to 150, then 20, then 10. And then we're going down to London for meetings all the time. We're like, you know what? We're actually pretty close to getting this. And then we got it for like nine different categories of product.

It was slide to Olympic games, and then you kind of just need one big domino to fall. So from there, once we got the Olympic license, we could go to all the major retailers in the uk like Tesco, Argos, Saintsbury, and say, hey, we're the official licensee for the London 2012 Olympics for these nine categories of products.

Do you want to stock these products in your store? Come the Olympics. Essentially they could only buy it from us. And then they're like, yeah, cool. So we had all those meetings and then when we had those meetings, we're like, hey, this is our other business camping and outdoor, do you want us to quote for your camping and outdoor range?

And they were like, yeah, cool. And we did like one or two products to start with. It went really well. The quality is good, the price was good. And then from there ended up doing like 19 pages in our catalog and did all the ranges and like, you know created brands for them as well. 

And then, you know, for the NBA I went to University of Miami for a year in 2008, 2009. And I was not good enough to turn the team, but I was on the practice squad. So I got familiar, I got made friends with all the guys on the team. One of the guys went to the NBA and he got drafted in 2009, same year as Steph. So he never actually played in the NBA, but just got drafted, went to Europe, got injured.

But the NBA wanted to see former players succeed in business. So they gave him an NBA license and we kinda kept in touch on social media. So I'd been living and working in China for so long. At that point, I just messaged him. I was like, hey man, we went to school like a few years ago together, I manufacture for all these different retailers and licenses.

If you can get the NBA license, then we can make these products. So we've got the home bedding category. So we did blankets, towels, bedsheets, pillows. We got the license. I started manufacturing product. Steph started posting it became a partner in the company. And then it really took off from there. And then that's when we got Nemar, the soccer player, he got involved after Kobe retired.

He did his book launch. So we were in talks of his company and we're doing a wide variety of products right before he passed for his three new books that he was launching in Borders. So it was kind of just like the Olympics was the first big domino to fall. Then we got into retailers, then I started sending IG dms.

Then you kind of meet people at conferences and stuff like that. But you really need that credibility and lucky for us the Olympics was the first one. But I think for anyone listening who's like, right, I wanna go after these big companies, or big licenses or big retailers, I would say that you need, you need to land your first one first, and that might be using your screenshot of your Amazon or Shopify sales to be like, Hey, this product does 10 million a year on Shopify.

Do you want it with your license now? Because if you, there's so many like licensing trade shows, there's like a sport and tailgate show in Las Vegas in January, right? You could screenshot your Shopify sales. Let's say you're doing like, I don't know, eight APRs or coffee mugs or cowboy boots or whatever it may be.

You'd be like, look, these are doing 10 million a year on our store. Do you want us to add to the NFL license? We'll do like Dallas Cowboys, but Pittsburgh Steelers, all these guys on our products. And essentially they just want see, they want to see proof of sales because if they give you their license, they're getting a royalty on your sales.

So, but if you're like, hey, I'm gonna launch this product, They're not interested cuz it's not selling anything yet. And you're leveraging their name in their IP to then sell the product. But if you're already selling something and it's doing good numbers, then they want to give you their license because now they're gonna get a fraction of your sales and you've already proved your concept and your customer base and things like that.

So for anyone listening who wants to get these sort of bigger licenses, I would attend the licensing trade shows for the category of product that you want. Build up enough sales on your existing store, take the screenshot of your sales, show them why you're good at what you do, get your first license and then once you get that, then you can go after whatever you want. Like Disney, Nickelodeon, you can approach Walmart, you know, all those guys, and then just really build it up from there. 

Alex Bond: I think that's really solid advice Kian. When I hear you talk about it, you talk with a lot of passions, specifically when you're even talking about working with sports manufacturers. 

Are there certain industries that you're more passionate, manufacturing for than others? Do you keep all your doors open or do you only like to manufacture for specific industries?

Kian Golzari: Yeah. No, it's funny you say that because when I got really good at what I do and then became in demand and people wanted to work with me, then I sort of just chose, right. Okay. So the NBA was gonna last one, right?

And I was like, I had done like the Olympics, United Nations Ministry Defense, all this, and I was like, I love basketball. It's my favorite sport. I love the NBA. It would be a dream of of mine to supply the NBA. And then I made it happen within six months. And then I was like, wow. Like, and then, okay, I love Namar, right?

We got in touch with his team, and then we got, so I basically live my passion through what I'm good at through developing the products for the people that I want to work with. Right? And then as a result, then, you know, you can DM anyone, like you can DM someone, like an influencer, like a Mr. Beast or Logan Paul or a nBA player and be like, Hey, do you want me to make a brand for you? These are the guys that I've already made brands for already. 

But then to your point, like, I might get offers for someone like, Hey, I've got this like pet brand, or I've got this baby brand. Do you wanna come on board and develop the next 10 best like baby products? And I'm like, well, I'm single. I don't have any kids. So I'm not, that doesn't wake me up in the morning to be like, I wanna make the next like, baby product range. 

But I feel that the best products in the world are the ones that solve problems. And if someone's like, I've got this innovative idea, it's never been done before. It's gonna disrupt the market. This is why it's gonna work, but I just need to help manufacturing it. I'd be like, okay, cool, because this is more like problem solving. This is like, hey, let's figure out how we can get the best product at the best price to really disrupt the market. 

So I'm involved in a few projects like that as well. That gets me really excited. So it's a combination of what I like and also problem solving as well. 

Finding efficient sources for manufacturing products

Alex Bond: I just kind of wanted to touch on a bit of the sourcing stuff and to circle back, honestly, when you talk about getting boots on the ground in the trenches, going to China, looking at I think I heard you say 500 different manufacturers. 

Was that advice that was given to you or was that just something that you thought made logical sense as what I should do? Because, you know, you sounded surprised that that's not something other people do. 

Kian Golzari: Yeah, I mean, I think that most people don't necessarily have the time or the resources to go and move to China.

So I moved when I was like 22 years old to China. and I was like, I really love this and I want to get good at it. And because I was like manufacturing for my family business and we had such a wide variety of products, every time I visited a factory I learned something. I didn't got like obsessed with visiting different factories for different products.

Like, oh, this is how trousers are made. This is how outdoor furnitures are made. This is how outdoor gas cook sets are made. I went, wow, this is cool. And basically like the more factories you visit, The more you learn how products are made, you can kind of apply those from other products into new products as well.

I would advise anyone, like whatever product or category that you're doing, that you go and visit your factory to, so you can really learn how products are made and really improve your knowledge so you're able to make better products and you're able to negotiate better prices and add more value to your customer.

But if you . Can move to China , go for it. But tthat's's not necessarily not an opportunity for everyone. But I think you'll certainly learn a lot. And now China's opening up to the rest of the world as well. So now it's a perfect time to go. Not only China, like if your manufacturer might be in Turkey, it might be in Mexico, it might be in the US, might be in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka. 

Go and see them wherever they are. Like you're definitely gonna learn something and you're definitely gonna get better prices as a result of it. And you're definitely gonna have your manufacturer's respect as well. 

Alex Bond: Well, that's great. Cause that actually goes into another question I had, which is, are there certain countries that you'd like working with more than others for example, you know, are there maybe like some countries that have too little regulations or too many regulations that make them more or less difficult to work with? What's your experience there? 

Kian Golzari: I mean, like I source from countries all over the world. It just so happens that China has, happens to be the best country, which has like the lowest cost skilled labor. Not lowest cost labor, but lowest cost skilled labor. And also has massive infrastructure in terms of their roads and ports and number of factories and capacity. Like what in a country in the world can you say that I wanna manufacture 30,000 of these within 45 days, and it's done to a very high standard.

Whereas like if you kind of go into the wild West, like if you maybe go to like, you know, India or Bangladesh or Myanmar countries which aren't as developed. And then it's like, well, you know, the goods are fine, but the roads aren't fully developed, so we can't get your goods to the port. There are all sorts of issues that can occur in terms of like payment protection and like, you know, like I can bank transfer a company in China, but because of like.

The way I do it and because of regulations and cuz of banks and because of like payment protection that I've arranged, like I've sorted out my samples and I've arranged my pre-shipment inspection company to go in and verify the goods, like so many security measures I can put in place. But if I find a factory, let's say for example in Mexico and they're like, yeah, just wires $20,000 and we'll start the production.

And I've never been there before and I've don't have any boots on the ground and I don't have any inspectors that can go into the factory. It's, it's a big risk. But I always say to people, it's very important to have a China. Plus one strategy, meaning if China is the best place for your goods, then find your factory, develop your sample, and negotiate your price.

But you should always do it with one country outside of China. Well, you should always do a couple of backup suppliers in China as well. But on top of that, always find a supplier out with China as well, because in the last sort of two, three years, we've had a lot of issues with like power outage situation, shipping costs, skyrocket thing, lockdowns factories closing down when the rest of the world was operating fine.

So a lot of people were forced to go to other countries. But the last thing you wanna do is like, you know, you're selling 10,000 units per month and then boom, your factory closes and you're like, right, well I'm about to go out of stock and now I need to find another factory in another country that could take six months.

But if you did that work in advance, if anything were to happen in the home country where you're manufacturing the goods, will you immediately go to your backup where you've priced up and sampled up and invested the factory and verified everything. It's fine. So a lot of people ask me like, well, how do I know which country to go to outside of China?

And I would always say start with the raw material of your product. Which country specializes in that raw material? So for example, India is very strong for wood, cotton, canvas, handcraft, leather, stuff like that. So if you've got a leather rug, for example, Well, India's probably the best place for you, but if you're doing like electronic product like Bluetooth headphones, it's probably not the best country for you.

Cause they don't really specialize in electronics. So you can, you can go to alibaba.com and when you under products hit search and then like whatever product you're looking for, whether it's Bluetooth headphones or a leather jacket on a left side of the page, it will tell you the number of countries which come up with results for that inquiry. 

So you can see, oh Turkey's coming up and Pakistan's coming up. I'll look at those countries. And then there's another fantastic website called Import Yeti. Import Y E T I and importyeti.com. What it does is it scrapes the shipping records, so any container that goes into the USA, every container has what's called a bill of lathing and a bill of lathing is the information of what goods are in that container, where it came from, what's the duty code where the factory and what import Yeti does it scrapes that information. 

So you can type in your biggest, the market leader for your product. So I can type in the North Face into import Yeti and it's gonna bring up all the countries, all the manufacturers, which have imported product into the us for north face. And then you're gonna see factories in Indonesia, in Bangladesh, in Ecuador, like loads of places like that. And you just have all the company details there, and you can contact them directly. 

So I would utilize alibaba.com music and Port yeti.com to find factories in other countries for your product. Get it priced up, get it sampled up, and look even if the prices are a little bit more expensive and your margins are. Well, so be it. Just use that when China are out of operation and then go back to China when things are going well again. 

Or maybe if it's a higher quality product that you're getting from another country, you can afford to put your prices up. But definitely look at other countries. 

Things you need to look out for when choosing a manufacturer

Alex Bond: You know, you mentioned transport is a huge one when it comes to finding ports, roads, that sort of a thing. You know, what is your vetting process look like and what are some of those red flags when you're looking at different manufacturers? 

Kian Golzari: Yeah, for sure. Great question. And luckily on alibaba.com, so I've got a YouTube channel called Sourcing with Kian, and the first video I posted was called Seven Alibaba Sourcing Hacks.

And on that video I made a screen share of here's all the things I would look for when I'm selecting a manufacturer. So one of the first things was, and I'm just talking about alabama.com. Only for the for now, and it's like search by verified manufacturers only. So you can click a button, it says verified.

And what that means is that a third party inspection company has gone in and verified that information. That factory is correct. So if they say they've got 500 workers that's been verified, if they say they've got 35 sewing machines that's been verified, if they say that they have this type of certification, their 200 square meters, 200,000 square meters, that's been verified.

And they show you photos and videos. So I now know and trust what is this information I'm reading is correct because it's been verified by a third party. But if it doesn't have that verification and they say, yeah, we've been manufacturing for 17 years, we manufactured for Disney and Walmart and all these guys, I'm just taking their word for it, but it's not been verified, right?

So that's the most important thing. Verified. After that, I would select trade assurance, meaning your payment is protected. So if you ask for like blue light blocking glasses with a blue frame, but you get it with a red, Then your payment is protected, you'll get refunded because you didn't actually get what you ordered, which can happen a lot as well.

On top of that as well, it's very important for me to check the number of years that that factory's been in business. So, for example, you can see that this factory's been established for since 1999. So like 24 years. You're like, great, they've been in business for 24 years. It's a fantastic company. But some have only been in business for two years.

Maybe they started after Covid because they saw an opportunity that everyone was buying masks. So they started a mask factory. That's not someone that I would like to work with because they're not really established. They're only in the business of selling like trendy products, but they're not a specialist in what they do.

And then on top of that, I like to analyze the factories location. So for example, when you're searching Chinese companies, the first word in every Chinese company is either the city or the province in which they're located. So for example blue light blocking glasses. Right? I just know that glasses are made in a city in China called we Jo cuz all the fact just sent to congregate like electronics are made in the south and Shenzhen backpacks are made in Chenoa and Shamin.

Blue light blocking glasses are made in We jo like steel comes from a young Kong. I just know that from living there for so long. Right? But if you don't know that, You can see this when you type in blue light blocking glasses. You click verified suppliers, you collect trade assurance. You select the type of certification that you want, and as you scroll down that list, you'll just see the first word come up when Joe, when Joe, when Joe, when Joe.

It'll be like when Joe Optics, when Joe. Glasses, all it's shipped, all that stuff, right? So if you then see an outlier that says, like, Beijing Optics, I'm like, well, that's not someone I wanna work with, cuz they're not in the area which specializes in that product. So, and then you can go even deeper than that.

Like if you click on the company profile, you can look at contact, look at address, and I like to. Analyze, am I working for a trading company or a factory? And to be honest, I like, I work with both like a lot. There's this misconception that trading companies charge you more and like you wanna be working with the factory directly.

But to be frank, a lot of people aren't ready to work directly with the factory because their quantities are too small. So it's better that you work for trading company first. So, but I like to, it's important to know who you're working with, right? Because like a factory might give you credit terms and things like that.

So when you go to address, I like to look at what's the location, because if it says like 29th floor downtown Shanghai, I'm like, well, it's obviously a trading company, but if they're like Industrial Park in Suho, I'm like, well, I know it's a factory, so I always like to look at the address of the company to see am I dealing with a trading company or a factory?

Those are the kind of things I look at like. I need verification. I need trade assurance. I need number of years in business. I like to analyze factory location. And then I also like to look at product and factory certifications. So every major factory which is ever manufactured for, let's say a retailer, a big box retailer like your Walmart, target Bed, bath and beyond.

Still have had to pass certain factory audits. Like they go in and they check like, Hey, do they have adequate lighting? Do they have fire extinguishers? Do they have dormitories for the workers? They check the books, make sure there's no underage labor, they're not getting made to work overtime, stuff like that.

And then they get this audit and they're like, cool. And then you can post those audits to your Alibaba listing. So I would look at. Look for those audits. And then same with product certification. If you're doing electronic products, there are legal requirements that you have to test for, whether it be like CE certificates and things like that, or special testing for California, because they're always a little bit different.

You can see like what testing they've already got, and you're like, well, great, if you've already got the testing that I need, that means you're a replica-table factory because you've already exported to the country, which I need to work with. But if you know. A test that I always like to do is like if I'm doing, like, let's say for example, an outdoor camping lamp, right?

I would go into Walmart and try and find that product or the closest equivalent to it, and I would read the packaging. And on the packaging I will always tell you what testing and certifications they've used for that particular product, and then I would. Take a photo of that, I would quiz my factory to be like, Hey, do you have this cerohs4092 certificate for lighting for the USA?

And they're like, no, what's that? And I'm like, well, clearly you're not a factory I should be working with, because that's what's required to import into the US if you don't know where that is. So the retail store is a big hack in terms of like, sometimes you don't know what the regulations are.

You might be scrolling on like some software and you find, okay, there's a massive opportunity for doing garden hoses, right? But you don't know like, is there a certificate I have to have for the pressure on this hose or like, I don't know. I've never used this before. So I would always like check with your manufacturer, Hey, what certifications do you have for this product?

I would check with the retail stores to see, find that product and see how the passion, what they've got. And it would also check with freight forwarders as well in terms. Your, the freight forwarders that you use to ship your products are also shipping that for brands as well. So I would ask them, Hey I'm importing these garden hoses from China to the US.

This is the HTS customs code that I'm using to clear these goods. Can you confirm that this code is okay? Because they're essentially clearing these goods for many other brands, many other products as well. So they have customs people in there and, and the customs people know what certifications are needed and what import duties need to be paid. So I always check with them as well. 

Helping entrepreneurs with product development

Alex Bond: To switch gears, product development, what are some of the topics that you cover in terms of product development in that course? 

Kian Golzari: So it's really interesting, right? So from doing like two and a half thousand different products, just there's not one approach or one way to be like, hey, this is how you develop the best products.

But from developing some of different products from so many different companies across some of the different categories of product, I find a lot of. Similarities, like, hey, if we do this, we'll be successful. And founder reached out to me about a year ago, and that's like foundr.com. So if anyone wants to check out, you can go to foundr.com/kian.

And there's a product development course there, which I've kind of just put like 12 years of knowledge into one course, which I've recorded in Melbourne, Australia back in September. It's kind of like a really proud feeling to have, like, here's year's worth of work just wrapped up into one course that anyone can apply to their business today to then go ahead and develop the best products.

But it's essentially, I kinda take you through my processes and steps in terms of, okay. I feel that, as I mentioned, the best products are the ones that solve problems. So I was asked myself the question, whichever, whatever product I'm developing, what problem am I solving here? Cause a lot of people, like they see a product that's selling quite.

Like a trendy product and they're like, Hey, I'll just make it a little bit thinner, a little bit lighter, or I'll just change the color. But really that's just a race to the bottom in terms of price because the market's gonna be flooded with competition. So I kind of look at product development in terms of how can I best innovate and then how can I best protect my product?

And there's like three or four different levels of protection in terms of can you get an exclusivity agreement from your manufacturer that they won't supply that to anyone else? Can you develop a mold for that product? Like if this is a new design, new shape. Then you've now invested significantly and molded out product.

So no one can just basically go ahead and copy it, and then can you patent that product, whether it's a design patent or a utility patent, to make sure that that product is now protected. So, and a lot of people always ask me like, hey, well what if my manufacturer copies my idea? I don't want them, I don't wanna share too much information about my idea.

I was like, your manufacturer's not gonna be the person that's copy you, copies you. It's a competitor that buys your product and sends it to another manufacturer and then they copy you. A lot of people ask me like, you know, like, should I give my manufacturer an NDA agreement and all this sort of stuff?

And I'm like, no, because I've always built my relationships based on trust with my manufacturers and I, for anyone who's consuming too much of my content before, I always go in so much detail in terms of there's so many benefits of having a great relationship with your manufacturer. But if you said to your manufacturer, hey, I've got this idea for this product, but I want you to sign this cause I don't trust, you're not gonna copy it.

It's not setting your relationship off on the right foot. But if you have that design patent and that U or that utility patent, You could take any other seller off the market and if, for example, you get unlucky in your manufacturer copies your product, well, you can also take their product off sale because you have that patent.

So the defensibility is really important. Problem solving is really important. Creating like a vision board for your products is really important because I like to kind of think of product development and in terms of like connected dots, because you know, you might look at our product and just. Like quite one dimensional.

But I like to think, I like to take all my ideas around that product to be like, hey like, okay, what are the influencers which are trending at the moment, talking about this product? What are the colors which are trending right now? Is it the earthy colors? What are the materials, whether it be recycle boards, sustainable materials, what types of packaging c can we make a packaging a purpose of the product?

So it's not just basically some cardboard box to transport it, but it's maybe like a pouch, which can be used as a feature of the product as well. Any idea I have for a product, I always just screenshot it if it's online or I take photos of it. If I've got it in front of me and I print 'em out, I put it on the wall.

And it's almost like now, like connect dots, look at all these different things and then like say for example, there's like maybe three or four influencers that you think would be a great fit for your product, get that sample made, DM that influencer, and rather than being like, Hey, can you promote my product?

How much will you charge me to to post this? I would rather be like, hey, I very much value your content. You're someone I've been following for a long time. I've been inspired by the work that you do. I'm also creating a travel brand. So you're a big travel influencer. I would love to send you this sample that I've made and I would love your feedback on it.

And then they would say, you know what? This is a great product. But when I used it, the shoulder straps were a little bit too thick. I wish they were a little bit thinner, like cool. Got it. Making the thinner straps and sending it to them. And then when it comes to posting it, they're like, I was involved in the product development process of this product. They made the changes so they feel like a lot more loyal to it, and then they're gonna post it, not because they're getting. Paid to do it or whatever, but because they were involved in it. 

So those are the sort of things that I explain in like, you know, testing the product and not overdeveloping the product because I always say like, develop until the product is 80% ready, because it can take like maybe one or two months to develop a product and get it 80% ready, but it can take nine months to a year to get it from 80% to a hundred percent.

And sometimes in that time, because we're all perfectionist, so I wanna develop that perfect product. Now, the window of opportunity might have passed because other people have come out for that product while you were trying to perfect it.

But if you launch it when it's 80% ready and while it's in production, while it's selling, and you're working on the next iteration, well, if someone ever copies your product, They're copying your first version, whereas you've come out with the better version, so you're always one step ahead of your competition. I explain all this sort of stuff in there, but if you're interested, definitely hit foundr.com/kian.

Alex Bond: No, that's really cool. I like the idea of beta testing via influencers because then they have like an intrinsic attachment to the product and it's development instead of feeling. I don't know a shill to it, honestly.

I mean, I can imagine these people get hit up all the time to promote a product that they might not even like, might not agree with, might not come back to, but if they're getting the product for free and just using it and being honest about their experience with it, then that's a win-win for both teams, honestly. So I think that's a really cool idea. 

You seem like an idea guy. This is a question I've been milling over in my head with different people in similar fields. Is it more about idea or the execution? I know that that's kind of like a loaded question cause I know that it takes both to make solid product. But for you, does it feel like the foundation of a good idea is more important or is it more about how to execute the best idea that you got really? 

Kian Golzari: Yeah. That's a great question and I think it's so important to discuss as well, because man, you could go to any event with 3000 entrepreneurs and everyone will tell you, like, I had the idea for that product before they made this product. Right. 

But the ones who succeeded are the ones who actually executed on it. And execution is not easy, man. It's tough. Like it will, man. I know so many entrepreneurs which have poured their life savings into product that they've had, like filled marriages as a result of like going all in on a product, spent too much time developing it, spent too much money on it. It kept filling, you know what I mean? And it's like, it's not easy. But execution is so, so important. 

So I would say that someone with great ideas might not be successful if they don't make the execution. Someone with terrible ideas might be very successful if they just keep executing because you learn from every single iteration, right?

It's kind of like selling on Amazon or selling on Shopify. You might not be successful if you're first or second product, but the lessons that you learned in that process, you now apply to your third product. And I've never seen someone which has filled three products in a row. Because you take those lessons into the next one because you constantly execute.

So I would say that like, hey, if you are not, if you don't know how to develop the best products or anything like that, there's plenty of free information out there. Like this podcast for example, like my YouTube channel. And then if you, you know, there's like group coaching and mentoring and all this sorts.

Yeah, online events you can go to and stuff like that. So there's really, you know, get yourself into a group of some people which can hold you accountable. Maybe like five or 10 other people, which also want to develop products and sell and Shopify and ams, Amazon, and things like that. And just share your strategies.

It's like there's now so many resources that are fingertips that there's no excuses for lack of execution. So if you have an idea, but you take agents to execute, and I understand people have got jobs and families and things like that. Not to go Gary Vee on everyone, but everyone's got an a spare five hours a day to work on their idea. Weekends as well, holiday period as well. 

So if you're really serious about this and if you really wanna sort of become a nomadic lifestyle, e-commerce, and by the way, all that sort of like nomad stuff is, is not true. Anyone who's built a massive business works very, very hard. If you want that quality of life, then just put the work in and it's definitely possible. Cause I've seen hundreds of people do it. 

Alex Bond: No, I think that's sage and honestly, from what I've heard and advice is I try to surround myself with people who know better than I do. You know if I'm an idea guy, which I am, I don't have great discipline. I have to surround myself with people who do have discipline and better time management skills and stuff like that. If I wish to actually, get my idea executed or something like that. 

Kian Golzari: You never wanna be the smartest guy in the room. 

Alex Bond: No, absolutely not. Then people start coming up to you and asking you for answers, and then you, you're stuck giving fake answers or something. 

Kian Golzari: And by the way, I have this rule for like events, right? I like to spend my time in three different categories, 33% of the time. So, you know, you do the, like, online sorry, like in-person events, like these e-commerce events and stuff like that. 33% of my time I like to educating and teaching people in terms of like, here's better sourcing practices and stuff like that.

33% of the time I like to be talking to people, which I feel are on the same level as me in terms of, Hey, this is what I'm doing. What are you doing? Cool. Well, I tried this. It didn't work. Audio, I tried that. You should try this software. Cool. And then 33% of the time I like to learn from people, which are where I want to be.

And they can pass down their knowledge, but I feel that like you actually get better at what you do by teaching. And then you can also have those accountability groups with people which are on the same level as you. And then you can also learn from the people which are ahead of you as well. But also it's very important to sort of audit the person which is giving you the information, right? 

Because have they achieved what you want to achieve for them to be giving you that advice? And then also, how did they achieve that? Because you could take advice from mark Huben, right? Dude's a billionaire, and you might just wanna launch your first product.

So is he really the best person to give you that in the trenches advice because he's not doing it today. I don't wanna take anything away from me to achieved mass massive success. But he's better off giving advice to someone who's maybe made their first a hundred million and now they wanna make a billion, not someone who wants to launch their first product.

So get yourself in the room, which someone who has recently achieved and is still doing what you want to do, and they can give you the best up to date actionable advice that you can apply to your business today. 

Alex Bond: Oh, I love it. That's extremely applicable if you're looking at product development. Kian, what are some of the factors to look out for down the road of product development? You know, for example, are there certain things you can do on the front end in develop? To solve a potential problem that might come up on the back end? 

Kian Golzari: Yeah, that's a great question. And I would say that it goes back to developing a good relationship with your manufacturer.

So, for example, there's a difference between like, okay, I'm gonna do this order for the first time, versus this is a repeat order. And now like, you know, I've kind of proved the concept order. That first order of 300 units sold out pretty fast. Now I'm gonna go for that next one. And what I like to do is I always like to give my manufacturer a forecast order.

To say that, hey, at the first two orders we did 300 units. Now we did 600 units. Our orders are growing and we envision that over the course of the next 12 months that we're going to order 10,000 units. Now, I don't want to basically place the order for 10,000 units right now, and this is not a commitment, this is just a forecast.

But can you go ahead and place the order for the raw materials of our products for 10,000 units? For example, let's say we're doing a black hoodie, right? And you need black polyester material for that hoodie. I would say to my manufacturer, can you hold in stock in your warehouse, 10,000 units, pieces worth of that black polyester?

Now, I'm not asking you to cut the material. I'm not asking you to sold the material. I'm not asking you to make the products. I'm just asking to hold that material in stock so that when I give you an order every month for every six weeks or every quarter, then the materials are there in stock, ready to go.

You can literally just cut, stitch, pack and send them out. And what that does is that it gives you like economies of scale in terms of price because you've locked in your material price at 10,000 units rather than 1000 units. It's also giving you a consistency of supply because the quality of your polyester will be the same for every order for the next year.

It will also speed up your lead times because it's only gonna take like 30 days to manufacture rather than 60 days because they had to go and order the material. But then, you're also not paying for it because you only pay for the goods when they go out in the factory. And then a lot of people would say, well, why would someone just order 10,000 or hold that stock?

What if I don't take the goods? But remember, you're only asking the manufacturer to hold the raw material in stock. And if it's something simple like black polyester, if you don't take those goods after one year, they have no problem selling that black polyester to any other customer. Right? But if you had asked for some custom purple color with gold fishes, They'll probably say no because they know that they can't sell that pattern to anyone else.

So if you don't take it, you're stuck. So they might ask you for a deposit on the materials, but if it's like a common material, like let's say if it was steel or aluminum for the outdoor furniture chair, or if it's a black polyester for the hoodie, or if it's the frame for the blue light blocking glasses, they can hold the material and they can use it for other customers.

If you don't take it. But that's gonna reduce your cost, reduce your lead times and really give you a consistency of supply. So it's things like that, that you start to learn as you get bigger. And that's why you want to sort of be involved in like group coaching and like learn from the people which are above you.

So, you know, you, you, you might be sourcing a product for the first time and be like, you know, the price I'm getting quoted is $8. How is it that when I look online, everyone's selling this for much cheaper than me, like, but I'm ordering decent volumes. It's like, these are types of. Tips and tricks and hacks and strategies that you learned from just being in the game for a while that you can apply to your business to then make sure you get the best prices and quality and faster lead time so you don't run out of stock either.

Alex Bond: So what I'm hearing you say Kian is people wanna make a product that stands out and can be independent and look different, but it actually might be more beneficial to use raw materials in a baseline of something that is a little bit more, I don't wanna say unoriginal but easily accessible so that you don't get stuck trying to hold the raw materials and pay less on the on the front end. Does that make sense? 

Kian Golzari: Yeah. And you know what? Like if anyone ever gets confused, like you can also, but you've got an idea for a product, all you need is one sample, and then you can kind of get validation from the market. So if you build up a community, let's say for example you've got a Facebook group of 500 people which have maybe bought a product from you before.

You'd be like, Hey, by the way, this is a new product. We'll be thinking about launching. Who wants to be the beta tester? Or if we were to sellers for $99, would you be interested in purchase purchasing this and get that feedback from your loyal customers before deciding, you know, do I want to really launch this product?

On top of that, crowdfunding is a great platform for like innovative projects, like whether it be Kickstarter or Indiegogo. You can make a make a video about your product and say like, Hey, we're gonna sell these introductory offer at $99, and then give yourself a goal. And if you only sell like 15 units, well don't launch it. It failed. 

And if you get an order for like 1800 pieces, wow, great success. Now let's pull a trigger. Let's launch it, let's develop it, let's manufacture it. So it doesn't always have to come at the expense of just taking a punt on something, paying for the stock, and be like, oh, shit, I didn't sell. What did we do?

So I would always get validation before, I mean, You get better at that over time. Once you understand your audience a little bit more and you know what they like, because essentially once you build a brand and like building a brand, that feels the most important thing because that gives you, a lot of people wanna build up your e-commerce business can sell it, and if you sell it, you have way you can sell it for way more.

If you sell a brand right, as soon as people like your products and they develop a loyalty to that brand, then people will. Products just because I like that brand, not necessarily because it's this highly new, innovative product. So I think that spending time and focusing on building a brand will allow you to launch products easier in the future as well.

Alex Bond
Alex Bond

Meet Alex Bond—a seasoned multimedia producer with experience in television, music, podcasts, music videos, and advertising. Alex is a creative problem solver with a track record of overseeing high-quality media productions. He's a co-founder of the music production company Too Indecent, and he also hosted the podcast "Get in the Herd," which was voted "Best Local Podcast of 2020" by the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia, USA.

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