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Torin Hoffman - Business Acumen Driven By Passion And A New Age Of Revealing Guarded Secrets

icon-calendar 2021-02-19 | icon-microphone 1h 10m 24s Listening Time | icon-user Debutify CORP

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Fair warning. This episode of Ecomonics, a Debutify podcast, contains spoilers for the popular television show, Dragon's den of which today's guest Torin Hofmann was featured on. How can a show like that be spoiled? Funny. You should ask. I was wondering about that myself. In addition to the aforementioned revelation, this episode also proves what we are capable of when we go online to learn something, kept obscure by design and be compelled to then teach it ourselves. 

Torin Hofmann was born and raised in Calgary, AB. After meeting one of his business partners at MRU, Torin grew Burgundy Oak from zero to reach 650 stores across North America and over One Million in revenue per year. Along with assisting clients reach their advertising goals, Torin also runs multiple e-commerce stores and a YouTube Channel.



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Torin Hofmann: [00:00:00] Think about the niche that you're most involved in personally, like find products, like no one knows that better than you. Right? So it's like focus on something you're good at. You like, what do you see? Like innovate in that market? Because trying to find that niche, like, it's people just trying to sell like hot products, hot drop shipping products for like two weeks before everyone tries to sell that, like, that's not going to do it for you long term. 

Joseph: [00:00:31] You're listening to Ecomonics, a Debutify podcast. Your resource for one of the kind insights into the world of e-commerce and business in the modern age. This is Joseph. I'll be presenting a wealth of industry knowledge from interviews, with successful business people and our own state-of-the-art research. Your time is valuable, so let's go.

Fair warning. This episode of Ecomonics, a Debutify podcast, contains spoilers for the popular television show, Dragon's den of which today's guest Torin Hofmann was featured on. How can a show like that be spoiled? Funny. You should ask. I was wondering about that myself. In addition to the aforementioned revelation, this episode also proves what we are capable of when we go online to learn something, kept obscure by design and be compelled to then teach it ourselves. 

Torin Hofmann, you checked out our show. So, you know, what's about to happen. It is good to have you here on Ecomonics. Thank you for being here. How are you doing today, man? How you feeling? 

Torin Hofmann: [00:01:31] Yeah, no appreciate you have me excited to be here and, uh, yeah. Ready to get into it. 

Joseph: [00:01:36] Excellent. So our tradition it's, it's a great one. It's my, uh, it's my favorite tradition across most of the podcasts interview space. And so when it's so forth, tell us who you are and what do you do? 

Torin Hofmann: [00:01:47] Sure. Yeah. So my name is Torin Hofmann, I guess I would consider myself a e-commerce entrepreneur.

Basically, done everything under the sun. So I don't know if you would, uh, and I'm still doing everything under the sun. So, um, I came out of university with a marketing degree, started, uh, a startup basically that exploded to about a million, a million dollars a year in the first couple of years, uh, which really exploded my online e-commerce vision and advertising knowledge.

Uh, since then, uh, I exited at the perfect time just about a year ago, bought my first rental property. And now I'm dabbling in a little bit of YouTube trying to give back to what I know and, and, uh, continue that to online learning for myself even. 

Joseph: [00:02:33] Sounds good. So you, uh, so you said you, you graduated with a marketing degree. Now, despite this being an e-commerce show, that's actually more of the exception than the norm, because a lot of the people who got into the space have a wide variety of experiences, people in the financial sector, uh, one guy, he studied chemistry. I don't think I've talked to any military vets. It's not yet.

Though, I know there is one out there, but it'll come up. So the first thing I want to know about what you, what you, maybe you were anticipating with getting into marketing is that was e-commerce so prevalent a presence in your, uh, in your perspective that you thought you were going to get into it, or did you think you were going to go more of like a, a traditional brick and mortar route?

Torin Hofmann: [00:03:17] Yeah. So, um, I consider myself a millennial, so very similar age to yourself. So even back then, uh, e-commerce like when I was in high school, I guess we would say this is early two thousands. Um, That like, there were like these, these business models didn't really exist. Right? So I, I was thinking about going to school for business because I come from a business background.

My parents have both been entrepreneurs and, and sort of, I knew I wanted to go do business. And so traditionally, right, let's go to business school, sort of learn all the different finance, accounting, um, uh, your marketing and choose sorta where you want to go from there. Uh, but once I got into university, it was more about the social skills and the networking and the basically ability to figure out the room and decide what you want to do in a business setting.

And so it was a lot of intangible skills. I think I learned because coming out of university and doing what I'm doing now, I didn't even learn a single thing from the university that I'm doing now. Right. So I would say like, if you want to go an e-commerce experience like trumps university, but, um, I'm initially met my first business partner in, in university.

So I wouldn't, I wouldn't take that back because it's led to where I am today. 

Joseph: [00:04:36] Yeah. I, I know that there's, there's some, uh, value out of, uh, his, his art of the deal book. Cause I think he models a lot of the afterlife. The sansu motto, but instead of war it's it's business. Uh, so yeah, I do have a lot of respect for the guy, but I know that's like, It opens up a whole can of worms for a lot of people.

So, uh, I appreciate your perspective on it all the same. There was, there was one part of it. Uh, so you said, figure out the room now that now that, uh, stuck out to me, because when I hear like, uh, you know, figuring out the room, reading the room, I associate that with the performative background, like for people who are say they're onstage, um, public speaking, stuff like that, they're trying to get a sense of like, what's the vibe, what's the energy.

Was this something that was, was, it was a lecture that they actually taught you one? Or what did you thought it was? What'd you think?

Torin Hofmann: [00:05:20] So, yeah, just, uh, I went in a lot of entrepreneur classes and I was a part of a lot of pitch competitions in university. And so onstage has basically part of reading the room, but in terms of reading the room and in business, uh, for me, I, I more so meant.

You got to figure out who you need to know who to rub shoulders with. And a lot of people are quite nervous or not confident in themselves, basically to try to figure out who you need to talk, to go shake as many hands as he can figure out like the people that maybe are investors, right, are looking to find a new venture.

So basically reading the room, trying to figure out who you need to talk to, who you need to get in front of and not being afraid to shake their hand and say, this is what I'm doing. 

Joseph: [00:06:04] Yeah. Me with, uh, I, I do come from like the somewhat of a film background. Like I did a background acting for a couple of years.

And what I noticed is there were two ways to network. There were as a networking event. So we would go to, um, you know, they were once a month, make it out to as many as we could. Uh, and. And it, and it was a lot of that. It was trying to figure out what's the best way to get something out of this. And I think for me, I had an issue with it because of that pretense because everybody understood what was the intention there.

But when I would be in background holding now, for those of you who don't know when we're in a holding, we're actually like sitting around at tables, waiting to be called on to set. Sometimes we can be sitting at tables for five hours, six hours. So everybody, they were sitting within the table, we're getting to know quite, uh, quite intimately. By my girlfriend of now. Um, two plus years, we met through sitting at a table and background together and I found that to be. Oh, well, at least for me, a more effective way of networking because the pre there wasn't the pretense, it came up organically. And I'm wondering if there's an equivalent in your experience where you've managed to make, uh, arrangements or you've managed to have connections that just kind of more came up through you living your life and doing what it is you got to do.

Torin Hofmann: [00:07:20] No. Yeah. And I totally agree it. You know what, like when networking events come up, it's, I'm not a fan, like who wants to just go meet strangers right. And feel awkward. So. I totally get that. This was part of like your degree, your university degree, it's part of networking. Like you have to go to these events, you have to do this, you have to pitch, right.

Like it's part of the whole experience. So, but with that being said, especially today, In the world we living with Corona, but the networking we can do now is all from my phone. Like I can literally reach 200, 300 people in an hour with the same message, right. Just trying to reach out to them. And so that kind of networking is just trying to be friendly, just trying to talk business.

Right. And just trying to get to the people that you want to get to. And, and a lot of the times I feel like people are too nervous that they'll get shut down or, or what we mentioned before. It's being that professional. Professionally annoying. It's true. It's basically trying to get where you need to without like completely burning that bridge.

Joseph: [00:08:20] So yeah, I, I I'll, I'll go on the record and say I'm I I'm. I have. Definitely in a more introverted than extroverted. Uh, it was difficult for me for a while. I was trying to model the Don Draper style. Cause I really got into mad men where I would just sit at the bar and just kind of like pose and see if anybody comes up.

Uh, the only person it worked once or somebody comes up to me. So, so you're just going to sit here and look, they become too. I'm like, yeah. Yeah. All right. Good luck. 

Torin Hofmann: [00:08:44] Nice. Yeah. Yeah. Fair enough. 

Joseph: [00:08:48] Um, one thing I'm curious about regarding your experience is that, you know, so you're, so you're a millennial as well, and I'm going to ask you, uh, how old you are and it's, I don't know.

It's not like, I don't know. It feels something that seems uncomfortable ask that question, but it's really important because in millennial time, every year counts. So I'm 31 years old. Uh, where are you right now? 

Torin Hofmann: [00:09:06] I'm 28. So I was born in 92.

Joseph: [00:09:08] 28? Okay. So that's about four years. Okay. That might not seem like a lot.

I think for people who are like, I don't know, from the, from the great depression, but like, I think for us, Um, those four years can actually, uh, mark a lot of significant changes on the internet. So I remember for me, like my, my early experiences in the internet was a Nintendo fan site. Uh, geo cities, uh, and, and websites were stick figures would do all this matter of an Holy things to each other.

Um, do you remember what, like, where we see some of your early experiences on the internet? Not necessarily, you know, e-commerce related, but like what were some of the things that imprinted onto you?

Torin Hofmann: [00:09:44] I can't remember if it was junior high. I think it was junior high. Do you remember the social platform, Nexopia?

Joseph: [00:09:51] Nexopia?

Doesn't ring a bell. You remember Zynga?

Torin Hofmann: [00:09:55] That rings a bell. Yeah. So it was, it was hilarious because it was so archaic. You ha it was like a social platform that you literally picked your top five friends and displayed it on your page. Like who your top five friends were. So it was like a popularity contest, right?

Like who would put their top five friends on whose pages? So I think that was like one of my, uh, the youngest and like, then. The next thing I couldn't believe. And I grew up in the country, so we had even dial up internet at that point too. So dialing up internet to just use it in my family's house for like an hour or whatever of my time.

Right. Uh, it was quite fun, but I think webcam was the first time it ever like blew my mind is when I hooked up like a webcam so early and was like, no way, like talking in real time. And most of the time it was probably the girls in high school. Right. It'd be like, we're talking to webcam. So. Yeah. 

Joseph: [00:10:49] Awesome.

I only brought this up one other time and I'm trying not to break it up too often on this show, but I remember like the very first experience I had with the internet. We were at my, uh, one of my cousin's houses and he had gotten into one of those, uh, chat boards. I think it was ICQ at the time. And for first thing that ended up happening is I ended up getting into a fight with somebody.

So I typed a F-you in full, and then I exited the chat, exited the chat. 

Torin Hofmann: [00:11:12] Nice classic, uh, Yeah. What is it? Chat roulette now. 

Joseph: [00:11:18] Yeah, I know somebody, um, he married somebody that I met on Omegle. Now that the internet. Yeah. Yeah. I was, uh, I was one of the groomsmen. It was.

Torin Hofmann: [00:11:26] That's awesome. Wild.

Joseph: [00:11:27] That's fantastic. Now here's the interesting thing about the internet is that even early on it, it fills the void that reality or the mortal coil seems to be lacking. And when I say like Nintendo fan size, cause that was a big fan, didn't have anybody to talk to in school about it. Cause they were all so many PlayStation and Xbox people. Um, but I, I would go home or even just check it out before I go to school.

And there was a community of like-minded people. So very early on, it occurred to me that it was giving me an ability to shape my life in a way that I want. And it's only continuing to, to. Uh, have that impact and it's much more way more profound that I, uh, that I could have imagined. And I know that it had a lot of that for you too, because I know that you were teaching yourself how to, how to fish.

What I wanted to ask about in specific was the learning part of it. Um, because online learning and self-teaching is. I mean, it's a revolution, uh, that we're experiencing. So, uh, how did you find learning online compared to learning in the classroom? 

Torin Hofmann: [00:12:31] Yeah, for sure. So that's actually a great question because I, myself just released a YouTube video where I talked with one of my good friends on.

How he makes his money on YouTube and Skillshare. So same sort of talks you've had before where, um, basically he took a class in university, almost regurgitated it, um, and put it out on Skillshare and now Skillshare pays them eight grand a month, right. For that same university customer. Yeah. Yeah. Oh, you got it.

You're going to have to listen to my podcasts there. To hear the story, but yeah, so the online learning, so I also, I have a couple of YouTube channels, but one of my side hobbies is fly fishing. And so fly fishing is, is, it's an interesting, it's a very cliquey little sport it's so it's based on secrecy, right?

So it's all about where to find the fish and you can't be sharing it, but I. Couldn't have anyone to teach me because everyone was being way too secret about it. So I turned to YouTube and I basically taught myself a physical activity sport. If you call it outside from watching YouTube videos, um, and now have decided to give back, uh, to the community by creating the same sort of thing and, and teaching people more about this online community.

So the online digital learning space is. Like I started in product sales where I'm selling physical products, but I've started to dabble in YouTube and personal branding now because the digital products and the educational learning that's going on online is blowing my mind with just like, My previous businesses, lots of overhead, lots of employees, lots of expenses, digital products, poof, all that's gone.

Right? So it's like it's the, the business model is blowing my mind. And to think that 10 years ago you had a little screen in front of you that you could literally learn anything you want for free. Like, it might take some time to try to figure it out, but it's free out there. So it's like what? Like. It's changed my way of how I want to live my life.

It's it's based on now, like what do you want to do in your life? Because now there's business models where anyone can do it online. It's out there. Like you just, you have to put in the work, but the business model is out there. So making money from a computer allows you to be a lot more. I guess disconnected from a regular corporate style life.

Joseph: [00:14:56] Yeah. I mean, I could go on and on about like all of the, the, the differences that the internet has made in my life. Um, and for listeners who listen to Everlast episode, thank you. You'll have to excuse the repetition, but that's part of the podcasting space. So like with podcasting, with media, Didn't see it coming.

I didn't think I'd be having the opportunity that I have, uh, unfolding before me. And, and it's, it's interesting too, because the last couple of people that I've talked to have all like touched upon the educational space between Skillshare and Udemy. And I could probably set up my own podcasting, um, a class on these things too.

Uh, and the reason why I'm saying this is because we're at a point now where if people aren't. Um, happy with their lives. I assume that they have internet access. They're kind of out of excuses, aren't they like w w if you can, you can be, uh, in a, some people can be in a situation where they have, they have no help on the end.

They're locked down, but if they have the internet, They really do need to find that motivation. So have you, uh, can you, can you speak to, uh, of ways that you've found to like reach out to, to an audience that, um, didn't have access to it and maybe within the, the, the, the fishing area, because if it's so secret, how do you get the message out to these people?

Torin Hofmann: [00:16:08] You know, where, where would I go with that. In terms of the fishing? Like how you want me to basically explain to you how I get my videos out there, if it's secretive or. 

Joseph: [00:16:18] Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Like, Oh, and it's, maybe it's not so much of an issue now. Um, but over time, uh, how I, one thing important to that I think is worth addressing too, is like how, however you were able to find it.

Were you just like, Oh, I'm just try looking this up just to see what I can come across. 

Torin Hofmann: [00:16:34] Oh, fair enough. Yeah. Yeah. Well, like growing up on the internet, right? Like if like I go, I would go out to the physical fly shops, get intimidated. Like no one wants to teach me or tell me anything. Right. So you go home, Google it and.

Like there's someone out there who's answered it for you. So spend a bunch of time just trying to learn online, whether it's someone in New Zealand, who's teaching it on YouTube or it's someone in my local area. So just teaching yourself, anything is so easy to like, it might take some time to figure it out, but, and there's a lot of crap online.

You have to wait through in order to find what you need to. But yeah, it comes down to motivation. It's how motivated are you to get where you want? Because it's out there, the models out there, people are doing it every day. You're talking to people that are doing it every day. Right. So, yeah, I've completely gone full tilt into describing to as many people as I can that yes, like start a personal brand, like start a course on, on Skillshare because people are changing the way they want to learn.

So instead of signing up for a university class, uh, to learn how to be a multimedia expert on podcasting, right. They could sign up for your course for 25 bucks. Watch it from the comfort of their own home. Right. So.

Joseph: [00:17:50] Exactly. Yeah. Uh, and you know, with platforms like you, to me, um, depending on how popular the teacher is, the teacher is, is engaged in the students too.

They will talk to the students and they will help guide them. Say, maybe I just need to reframe this for you. They get feedback from the students, they improve it. Um, so yeah, you know, uh, is for me just the difference between what my parents went through and what I went through in school. It means a lot to me to see that education, uh, is something that people can look to throughout their entire lives.

And they're not constrained to like a 10 year window where they have to like ride or die succeed or, or. Or worse or sick. Yeah. Sink or swim. I got one more fishing related question for you and then we'll switch gears. So this is a fun question. I have, everybody has taken to this question quite well in different ways.

So can you imagine any skills that you learned within your, your, your fishing pursuit that is also translated some way into your e-commerce expertise. 

Torin Hofmann: [00:18:49] Um, yeah, I know you're gonna want me to relate it metaphorically, aren't you? 

Joseph: [00:18:54] I mean, if it's pragmatically, I'll go for it. 

Torin Hofmann: [00:18:58] I started YouTube with my fishing actually, and that's honestly, what's like, I knew YouTube would be such a large thing.

I didn't know necessarily it would be the business model I wanted to go after. So I think I started the channel maybe like two or three years ago. Haven't even, haven't gone full time on it, but I just started bringing my camera out with, uh, with. With myself when I went fishing, uh, because this is what I love doing, right.

If I could have a channel, um, on my passion project and cause some wild make even a little bit of money from it. Why couldn't I right. So started bringing my camera out a few things, getting better at editing, getting better at filming. Um, like it was just better at all this multimedia just because it was my hobby.

I like doing it. And then yeah, a couple years later, next thing you know, I have a small community around me that really enjoys the stuff I'm making. I'm getting paid for it. I'm getting sponsorships. And it's like, I didn't even think this was a business model. I just wanted to just start filming like my passion.

Right. So that's, what's led me to rethinking like, okay. Like if I imagine going, full-time imagine creating a video a day, like this could be done in in months. So. It completely changed the way I thought about multimedia and internet. So like, yeah, fishing was the perfect way to. Married marry your passion and, and, and work and profit.

Joseph: [00:20:19] Yeah. And I think what you'll see too, um, is that things that you can continue to learn in the e-commerce space or in the media space can then influence things that you can do, um, with your, your fishing programming and then vice versa. I, I haven't found it yet. Um, not for lack of trying, but, uh, are you doing any, uh, e-commerce stores where you're selling fishing products?

Torin Hofmann: [00:20:41] I'm actually, yeah. Are some of my most popular. Yeah, it's funny because I, and I, I almost like tried to teach that to students as well. It's like, think about the niche that you're most involved in personally. Like. Find products, like no one knows that better than you. Right? So it's like, it's going to be hard for me to find a winning beauty product, unless I'm like a really good dropshipper, if I'm not a woman, right.

Like, or someone who buys beauty products all the time. So I I'm like focus on something you're good at you. Like, what do you see? Like innovate in that market because trying to find that niche, like these people just trying to sell like hot products, hot drop shipping products for like two weeks before everyone tried to sell is like, that's not going to do it for you long-term. So, yeah, it's much better to try to go in that niche and like I'm a fishermen and have been for a long time. So like, I know it's most of the time blue collar, 35 year olds to 65 year old men who are buying my products online. And so I know it's like, Yeah, you get women to sell it money. So exactly.

It's just psychology. And so, yeah, it's just what, you know, in that niche. 

Joseph: [00:21:56] One thing I wanted to comment on with the, uh, the winning product videos is I, I T I see your point of view. Um, cause I know like on our Debutify YouTube, we do run those videos the way I see those is. I'm keeping my eyes peeled for products that are in my niche.

So if they're listing out 10 products and I, and I go through them and I think, wait a minute, actually, I could, I could sell that one to me. That's kinda like how I would interpret that just then that way I I'm trying not to like, get, uh, get sucked into the, um, the, the gold rush where people are like competing with one product after another.

Torin Hofmann: [00:22:29] Oh yeah. The, uh, yeah, the thera gun or the, the back, uh, Straightener or whatever. Yeah. So that's exactly it. 

Joseph: [00:22:38] Oh yeah. The posture would I bought that by the way.

Torin Hofmann: [00:22:41] How was it? 

Joseph: [00:22:42] Uh, the, you know, the problem was, uh, the Velcro is that Velcro is good for holding certain things, but there was so much pressure to like, actually like straightened my back up that the Velcro kept coming off.

So if I were to get one, I would get one that is like fastened based, uh, that can like lock in place. Um, yeah, so I wouldn't recommend a book run. I also, by the way, would also just maybe not recommend them in general, if you're worried about your posture, it's kind of on the person itself.

That's why like, whenever, whenever I go to bed, I always like lay flat on my back without a pillow, just to kind of like align my spine before I fall asleep. So I take it upon myself. Yeah. I got a bad hunch. Yeah. If somebody throws a punch, one of my defensive techniques is to actually just turn to my side and they'll their fist was so right.

Torin Hofmann: [00:23:26] Nice. That's a good technique. I should try it, but yeah. So like, I I'd feel I'd focus. Yeah. Talk about focusing on finding products in your niche, on how you can innovate and how you can sort of make a better offering because with internet, like we're way past the fact of being early in drop shipping. So it's like if someone wants to try to drop ship it's out there, so you got to compete with everyone else, but there's a lot of garbage out there and the general population is getting smarter anyway.

So it's just like, You gotta start branding better and, and focusing on giving a better customer experience than just trying to sell knock off Chinese stuff. 

Joseph: [00:24:00] Yeah. And you know, I'm, I'm happier being, um, aware of it at this point, rather than earlier on just because there's, there's a less compulsion to want to try to jump in and just drop some shifts, I think as soon as possible.

Um, I feel like nowadays there is that breathing room where, uh, I do have to, like, I can't take forever. Um, if a product had saturation, but even when products hit saturation, they come in phases, so it can dissipate and then somebody else can innovate with it and bring it back onto the market, uh, in a new way.

Um, but I, I I'm happier in. In this area, because I think initially what happened is that everybody saw drop shipping as like the answer to all of life's problems. Uh, and I I'm just gonna drop ship my way to it where it's like, okay, hang on a second. Drop shipping can be the difference between something and nothing.

It can mean the difference between success and failure, but, you know, today is a fulfillment method. All of the principles of business are still. Quite prevalent. Um, we need to have strong brands. We need to build trust and we need to, um, be good salespeople and, and believe in what we're doing. Some, some masters of it, they can sell whatever they want and more power to them.

Uh, but I think for a lot of us, you know, we, we really just want to, to S to sell and. Use our businesses as an extension of who we are. That's what I I'm, I'm in the, uh, I got into the, the home office because I've been working remote for like seven years. I like home offices. So it's easy to talk about.

Torin Hofmann: [00:25:29] Perfect time.

Right now. It's like, everyone wants to soup up their home office, get some serious equipment going and yeah. 

Joseph: [00:25:36] Uh, I've been really excited to ask you about the, your, your Dragon's den experience. Um, quick buffer. Do you get asked about it a lot? Did you get to do interviews and stuff like that? 

Torin Hofmann: [00:25:49] Yeah, totally.

I do. And then, uh, after it was done, I was still on, um, a bit of a road trip, trade show bender for a few months after. And yeah, it was like, felt like small celebrity. Cause everyone, everyone would go to these shows and be like, no way. I just watched your episode on TV. Right. So it was kind of cool, but uh, now it's.

It aired in 2018. So now it's been a few years, but, uh, yeah, I still get asked about it for sure. 

Joseph: [00:26:17] Yeah. Yeah. So I personally, I have a bit of, um, of a, of a sticking point with Dragon's den because I would, I would watch it sporadically. I wasn't like a dedicated person or anything like that, but I, yeah. It's such an intense show because people's passions and what they love is on the line.

And this one group comes in and he, we brought a bunch of people in different professions. There was like a hockey player, a lawyer, uh, like a librarian, um, engineer. And he had this idea for a show called American heroes where every episode they would help somebody in need by building them a house. And the dragons ripped into them.

One of the, one of the dragons said, this is the worst idea I've ever seen and nothing personal. But it's the worst idea I've ever seen. And, and, and, and I, and I thought about that show and I thought, you know, maybe a house episode after episode, wasn't the best track, but maybe if like each episode, they had different challenges.

So then that way the different people on the show could excel. Like some episodes, the hockey player would be the hero and the next one, the lawyer would be the hero. So I think with some tinkering, that idea could have been really strong and they didn't. And I dunno, I, it always kind like, uh, sat with me very, yeah.

So whenever, so whenever I watch, uh, these, uh, these pitches, I'm thinking like, you know, I hope that even if they're they're rejected or if even they have like a really hard experience, there is a positive takeaway for them to come out of it even stronger. But I assume there some there's some stuff you can't disclose contractually.

Uh, but I would love to know like the behind the scenes experience and what. You know how you like you, you got to the pitch phase and how you sure. Yeah. As much as you can. 

Torin Hofmann: [00:27:53] Totally. Yeah. Uh, so to give the viewers a little background university, uh, I met a business partner where our business was, he would purchase red wine barrels, uh, after they were used to create wherever.

And I think he used to purchase them from, uh, summer land in bc. So we purchased red wine barrels, bring them in and he would turn them into smokers like meat smokers. So for people who love smoking meat, you would get the flavor of the wine in your meat when you had smoked. So it was a crazy product. It, we only had it around for about a year until we realized, like we can't insure this product.

Um, because if we it's a wood and smoker, and if we light someone's house on fire, like that's going to be, that's going to be company. Right? So from that, we basically turned it into furniture and decor because people loved these wine and whiskey barrel furniture, pieces, um, furniture and decor pieces. So we made everything from coffee tables to a wine bottle displays to glass displays, to liquor cabinets, all out of these barrels.

So. Pretty cool business model. We did right out of university. We all went full-time with it. I think we did like maybe a hundred grand with the company the first year out of business. So we're all stoked about it. We barely paid ourselves anything. But, uh, we knew we were growing and people loved it. So the second year we got a location in Calgary where we started building, uh, all of our product full time, doubled our sales again, that year grew and yeah, and just went on a serious grind of, I was part of doing all the e-commerce.

So our website, online sales, all that marketing on all the advertising. I had a business partner that was focusing on wholesale as well. So selling, um, Two large big box stores. So we were growing extremely fast. And then we heard, uh, that Dragon's den would be coming to film in, in Calgary. 

Joseph: [00:29:54] Oh, I didn't know that they do the traveling.

That makes sense though. 

Torin Hofmann: [00:29:58] Um, they would be doing the audition filming. So not the actual film, not the actual Dragon's den filming. So a couple of the executive producers go to each city before they start and they do these auditions. So anyone can audition. So it was like a few months out. The business started exploding the following year.

We, I think we did like 800 K worth of our furniture and decor. So we knew going into Dragon's den. We're like we got the sales, like they're not going to rip us apart. We know what we're talking well, so we went to the audition. Uh, it was just actually. Uh, basically a gatekeeper. The first audition was just a gatekeeper who kind of just here's what business you have, how much you've done in sales.

And there's a big lineup. So then maybe two or three days after we initially went to the first one, we got a call back saying, okay, the executive director's in town and they want to watch your pitch is now this is going to be the choice on who goes to Toronto to film the actual. So, so we go back in, we bring our products.

And we pitched to the executive director and yeah, basically just tried to give him more numbers. Like, we're all, like, we know it, Dragon's den. Like we know what they're about. So it's just, here's our sales numbers. We're killing it. This is our projections. They invited us to go to Toronto, but they don't pay for anything.

Right. And so if you were to go to Toronto and film, only half of everyone that films actually gets on air. So it's like. We had the outlay, I think five or $6,000 to get us there with all of our product and get us back just for a 50, 50 shot of getting on air. So it was like interesting, but we're like, we gotta do it.

Right. We got, gotta try our shot for Dragon's den. So we were in Toronto and it's a funny story, but we didn't even practice our pitch for the actual dragons. Then until the day before, like the day we landed in Toronto the day before is when we were like, okay, we should probably figure out what we're going to pitch.

So, yeah, we went in and we basically killed it. Did, were you able to watch the pitch? 

Joseph: [00:32:02] I watched the, I watched the whole thing, so.

Torin Hofmann: [00:32:03] Nice. Yeah. So we went in, we did really well. They love the product. Uh, we had them arguing, um, over, over deals. I think we were in the den itself for like just under an hour and they cut it into seven minutes.

So it was like, it couldn't, so it couldn't have gone better. We shook hands with them. We left, we got a deal. Uh, we also got a deal for more than what we asked for, which was awesome. Um, and then. Basically after that, we still were then told to be completely quiet. Couldn't say if we got a deal, couldn't say anything.

I think it was like three months later, like months, three months later, they finally called, called us and were like, okay. Yeah. Like your episode will air. Um, you can tell people now. So it was pretty wild. Like we had a big, we had a big, uh, Viewing party in Calgary and yeah, it was, it was, it was great. It was, it, it blew up.

So yeah, open book. Ask me whatever questions you want. We, so part of our actual. And I left this part out on purpose, but Brett Wilson, if you know, Dragon's den was a previous dragon years ago, he, uh, he had heard that we were going to go on dragons in and he, he wasn't a dragon. So he gave us a call up before and he was kind of like, I don't want to ruin it for you, but this is what dragon's den is actually like, it's just for shill everything's for show.

Like, and we're like, yeah, we kind of knew that. So he's like, just go in there. Do awesome. And just like use it as a big old marketing, uh, explosion for your brand. And we're like, okay, sweet. So we went in just trying to get a deal. And then as soon as we got home within those three months before we were, uh, uh, we heard if it was, um, going to go on air, not we went to our bank and we said, uh, this is the deal they're offering us.

And, uh, they said, we'll give you the same amount for 5%. So we said, okay, let's just sell finance. Let's not give up any equity. So he didn't end up taking the deal anyway. 

Joseph: [00:34:09] So I want to be clear on this for my own sake. So the previous dragon says that it's all for show now, does that mean that the offer that they give you, like you.

Don't actually get to take it or you can take it. I'm sorry. I'm just, I'm not a hundred percent on what happened there.

Torin Hofmann: [00:34:25] Yeah, here it is. I mean, I hate to ruin Dragon's den if anyone's a big fan, but for instance, we shook hands with Mangi and that season she shook hands with 60 businesses, six zero at like a hundred thousand each like this, it seems a little, a little off here.

So anyways. Yeah. So yeah. Uh, Brett basically told us, he said, um, even if you get a deal, only 5% of them actually make it on paper. So with that being said, how many effin deals, do they make on TV? Right? To know that none of them actually go through, it's just all TV, but that's TV. That's showbiz, baby. Right.

Joseph: [00:35:08] So, uh, I will say, I didn't know that, um, I did think that the, the deals were legit. Um, I'm not, I'm not heartbroken or anything. I'm I'm, I'm fascinated. Uh, I'm. I'm actually like motivated now just to come up with a completely absurd business model just to go in there and to like, Oh yeah. So, uh, so check this out.

So you always lose your left sock. So we sell the left sock and then we got to sell the business where we sell the right side. So ju just.

Torin Hofmann: [00:35:36] And then you get lit up and then you'd get famous and then you'd sell a million. That's like, that's what you ha. It's like the dragons are there for their own publicity.

Right? Like they want to go in and throw around a ton of money, look like they're huge entrepreneurs and they're investing in all of these businesses when in actuality it's like, they're there for TV too. 

Joseph: [00:35:56] So, so two questions about that. I, one of them, uh, is with the, the 6,000 or so dollars that you guys had to spend to, to be there.

Uh, we, I figured you guys write that off on your taxes as a business expense. 

Torin Hofmann: [00:36:10] Yeah. But. I mean.

Joseph: [00:36:12] That checks out.

Torin Hofmann: [00:36:13] It'd be nice for them to be like, we'll pay for you, but we totally get it. Like, yeah.

Joseph: [00:36:19] Well maybe if like, if you, if you're accepted we'll, we'll, we'll reimburse, like you got to win, like something along those lines.

It's Canadian television. Yeah.

Torin Hofmann: [00:36:30] That's how much it's going to cost us. Like yeah. Like whatever let's do it, let's do it for the. The experience. 

Joseph: [00:36:37] Yeah. And then, so it's a, it goes for an hour and then it's cut down to the seven minutes sequence. I mean, how much like deliberation is going on throughout that hour?

Is it like people are taking breaks to go get a sandwich or like, is it actually like an hour long? 

Torin Hofmann: [00:36:51] Yeah, yeah, yeah. Like questions back and forth hour long. Um, so the, the only thing that's scripted in every pitch is like the first, like. Two and a half, three minutes, right? It's like who we are, what we're here for, how much we're asking what we do.

And then it's just questions. So yeah, I was just like going back and forth and questions and like, we absolutely killed all the questions. Like there was nothing negative, so it's like, there's no way an editor could cut this to make it look bad. So.

Joseph: [00:37:22] They tried by the way, um, cause with my, with my, my keen editing sense.

So. When the, usually things start to go awry, like when they ask about the, the, the margins or something like that. Uh, and then they started to do that sequence where the dragons little by little are starting to say, Oh, I'm out, I'm out. 

Torin Hofmann: [00:37:43] Yeah, it's funny. Okay. I'm losing my memory on it because it's been a few years ago and I've watched the episode.

And I'm thinking the episode was actually how it went, but they cut it up and put it in so many different ways. It's not actually how, like the deliberation went on the dragons jumping in and out. So it was just like, yes, that happened. But the sequence of events were obviously just made to be as, as entertaining as possible.

Joseph: [00:38:12] Hmm. Well, I, I think anybody, uh, uh, keen on going, I'll probably still gonna go anyways, because like we said, it's, it's a glow, it's a, it's a huge platform. It's a way to, uh, it's, it's still a pitch in the sense that you're pitching and they're just like the, the foils to, um, ask the questions that. Other businesses, other investors would want to ask it in a way that broadens it out to everybody.

So it's still totally worth doing. I would imagine.

Torin Hofmann: [00:38:37] Exactly. Yeah. Well, I tried to pull like a little bit of Andy mattress with the footage as well, but like that night it aired. I think we sold like 20 K in furniture and then another 10 K the next night. So it was like, it paid for itself immediately, already.

And then I took that footage of us on Dragon's den and turned it into like that same sort of ND. Uh, and then ran ads to all the people that came to our website that night and made money out of it. So it was like  it was profitable for us to do at the end of the day, for sure. And then the experience and all the footage we had to, to, uh, advertise with.

Joseph: [00:39:13] Oh, thank you for sharing that with me. That that's something that I really wanted to know. 

Torin Hofmann: [00:39:17] Yeah. Yeah. It's a cool experience. Hopefully, I didn't ruin it for you, but, uh, 

Joseph: [00:39:21] It changed. It's changed now. Ruined it. Like I I'm actually having like a slightly more positive takeaway from it. More than anything now, you know, right now.

Torin Hofmann: [00:39:31] Yeah. Cause sharper than them. 

Joseph: [00:39:33] Yeah. Cause, cause it does. Make a lot of sense, like that is a lot of hands to shake over the course of a year. Like that's a lot of, even if they're all, uh, profitable businesses, that's a lot. Yeah. How many seasons? Exactly.

 Seven seasons, 

Torin Hofmann: [00:39:46] 50 deals each for a hundred grand, like no way you're made of that kind of money lady.

Joseph: [00:39:51] Yeah. Get that, that checks out.

All right. So let's, uh, let's shift gears. I want to talk about some of what you've, um, talked about on your YouTube channel. Usually, what I try to do is I'd like to find some, uh, distinct, uh, content that, um, makes you stand out from a lot of other people I've talked to. And you would think that it's gotten harder at this point with all the people that I've talked to.

But as a matter of fact, it's actually gotten well hasn't okay. So it hasn't gotten easier. Right. But it has continued to, to be, um, an effective means because as I understand it better, I'm more keen now at like picking out the things that are distinct or specific. Um, so. Well, so one thing I actually need you to do a favor for me and my a and R and our Canadian brethren and sister and sister-in-law Canadian siblings, um, is, uh, for, for running your, your online stores, how do you handle shipping from within Canada?

Do you have to do anything different from the Americans or like, how did, how do you deal with shipping? 

Torin Hofmann: [00:40:48] One of my stores, I just drop ship straight from China. And then my other store, I send my inventory to ShipBob. Down in the States, um, that fulfillment centers, cause believe it or not, it costs me less to send myself a package from Chicago to my house, um, with ups than it is to send it from South Calgary to North Calgary, with Canada post it's, like.

Ridiculous. Right. It costs me $5 a shipment from Chicago compared to like 15, $20 just to go across the city here in Canada. So like Canada's shipping is garbage, but the only, the only positive with that is that everyone living in Canada knows that they have to pay for shipping. So it's like they get that a $15 shipping charges.

Understandable. You're not going to have his drink. As big as drop-off, uh, because they know shipping like that is in Canada, unless you have Amazon prime. So, um, with that being said, yeah, I, I rarely try to take anything in in-house. I want to be sustained from my computer and have expenses. I don't want to have employees or overhead, so, um, send the product to, uh ShipBob or, uh, I have a couple Amazon FBA stores, just small ones.

Um, where I send some of the fishing equipment as well, too. So yeah.

Joseph: [00:42:14] Yeah. What, what, for those of you who haven't lived or even visited Canada, it's. Expensive to be here. We pay, we pay more for food, our phone bills of all, this is why, what my friend was telling me. Maybe you can substantiate this, but we have some of the most expensive phones.

Internet. Yeah. 

Torin Hofmann: [00:42:30] Yeah. We're, we're, we're spread out. We have a lot of space. We're not as packed in as the U S so yeah, it's a bit more expensive for, and shipping is tough. Shipping is tough to have a online business and, um, Just an even better reason to start digital products, right. Zero shipping costs. 

Joseph: [00:42:48] Uh, you know, so why don't we, uh, get into that?

Uh, can you, uh, tell me like what digital products you're working on right now and where they're fitting into your overall picture? 

Torin Hofmann: [00:42:56] Sure. Yeah, for sure. So it's just been recently, um, I've been speaking with, uh, I started to try to build some, some podcast content for myself as well, started to speak to some people in my network who are doing the same thing and doing really well.

Um, and most of them. It's that you, to me, Skillshare, like it's still, like, it's like, they use YouTube as an organic platform to market themselves and it's like three or four videos into YouTube. Someone will figure out your personality and decide if they trust you or not. So it's like when you give them the option to sign up for Skillshare for free, they get two weeks free.

And if you say you can finish my course in two weeks, well, that's a pretty like good offering. Right to, for someone to be like, I can get your whole course for free. And so Skillshare pays you 10 bucks, us, every person you sign up and then probably another 20 to 30 bucks when they go through your scores.

So you just got 40 bucks from Skillshare and this person thinks they got all that for free. So like, that's a pretty good like offering. And so they've been using their YouTube channels to just drive all the traffic and it's like, Yeah, like there's, I know people that are doing exam prep. Like I just uploaded some of my fly fishing, uh, how to videos.

So it's like all over the place. It's just like, when someone signs up for Skillshare, they pay a monthly. I think it's 20 bucks or something like that a month. And then they can access as many courses as they want. Right. And so skilled Skillshare pays the creators or the teachers based on watch time. So it's like, you'll get a cut of them signing up.

You'll get half of their signup and then we'll give you the money for your watch time. So it's like, Yeah, the video, I just filmed the guys making 12 K a month, eight or nine of it's coming from Skillshare. And the other three is coming from ad revenue. So it's like, it's a pretty sick business model. He says he wakes up, does a couple of trades films, a video uploads it, and that's his day.

Right? So it's like pretty solid where it. It's much harder. The funnel is much larger to try to sell someone on your digital product, compared to a physical product. People can see a physical product, they know the value that they know what it's worth to them. Um, but with that comes a lot of issues surrounding, um, fulfillment and your backend and who's paying and who shipping and excuse me, all that stuff.

Right. So. It's drop shipping is easier to get into just selling products, especially like, uh, winning products because people just see it and want to purchase it. And they see the value where now a lot of people are trying to sell courses and be gurus and stuff like that, but it's going to be the most authentic content wins.

And as long as you're like providing value, you know, your audience. So I talk about a lot of Shopify stuff, but it's not for anyone. Who has been dropshipping for years, right? It's not for expert dropshippers it's for the beginner. So I don't provide value to the experts. That's fine. I'd provide value to people who, who come in and don't know this, um, because I would like to give up-to-date information, um, because I know when I'm searching for it, it's like I might see a video that's three years old and has, I don't know, 50,000 views.

But if I see one that's a month old and as a few thousand views, I'm probably going to pick the one that's quicker, uh, or released sooner. Right? Because stuff online is changing all the time and I want to get the most up-to-date strategy. So. Yeah, just that kind of stuff. 

Joseph: [00:46:35] Yeah. And, uh, and that was raised in the previous study.

We were recording with Alex Genadinik was that you can have like the top level experts in their field, but for them to teach beginners, it's not really a good arrangement for either side because the experts aren't. Compelled. They're just, I don't know. I mean, for them they're on autopilot. Yeah.

Who wants to teach? 

Torin Hofmann: [00:46:58] Yeah. The beginning level, right? Yeah. So it's just like consumer, it's just PE it's education is leaving the schools and it's going to people, teaching people. So it's like, why wouldn't you want to learn how to fly fish with, by someone who does that every weekend. Right. Compared to just like.

Paying $500 and having to pay a guide or whoever. So, yeah, Skillshare, I, a lot of people are scared to try to start courses or personal brands because they don't feel like experts in the matter where I'm like that couldn't be so far off. Like you don't have to be an expert, you just have to know more than someone else.

And you'll be so much so surprised with maybe what you think. Um, you might know more than. More than the next person, right? 

Joseph: [00:47:40] Yeah. And even, so it's also, it's also an opportunity to learn too. Like if I'm trying to put together a course, it might raise questions or it might, I might find holes in my own body of knowledge that I wouldn't have thought before, because I wasn't.

I, I don't, I don't lecture myself at least. Well, no, not too often. Like I said, I am laying awake at night on my back without a pillow. So there's, I had to, I had to have a nap earlier today and like, as soon as I came out of my nap, my cortisol just like right back to work, like, come on guys, come on. 

Torin Hofmann: [00:48:10] There you go.

But yeah, so exactly. So it's just like, Even with your podcasting, like you probably know a lot more about microphones and headphones and like systems and OBS that any, like, you know, how many people want to start a podcast these days, but didn't, don't have a clue where to start, right? It's like, you might not have been doing this for 10 years and have a Joe Rogan podcast, but it's like, you may know more than a lot of people just getting into it.

So like, Values value. You're not scamming people if they get value out of it. And that's where gurus have kind of ruined the online learning space, partially because it's like, authenticity will always come out, but they have sort of gone the spamming route where people don't have thought now online classes are just spammy and overpriced and stuff like that, but values value, right?

If you give the people what they want and they're willing to pay that price, then. Who are you to say? 

Joseph: [00:49:07] Yeah, exactly. Uh, so it's, there's a, there's a point there raising about the trust in institution, um, which frankly is and all that there anyways, because when people sign up for school, um, and they're looking to get their degrees, it does depend on, obviously there's lots of, uh, vocations and professions that are correct to be in school doctors and getting into trades where people want to sign up for online courses.

They're like, well, you know, what's, what's what are the. What are the bone of feats of this person, right? What, why should I trust this person? And if it goes wrong, well, you know, am I going to, am I going to get my refund or did I like miss it? It, it can, it can go right. Either way. But I would say that in the, in the private realm, when we're talking about here, I think people are held a lot more accountable because there is public discourse.

People can. Do online reviews, they can talk about their experience on Twitter. All it takes is like one Instagram post to go viral. And a person people are going to start to question the legitimacy of the, uh, quote unquote gurus. Um, one other thing too, that I thought was really funny is, um, you know, there's that traditional, like they're holding up the camera there.

They're their phone and they're walking around their mansion and I am dying to see somebody do a spoof on that, where they're selling like a legit program, but they're in like a back alley where there are, they tripped over a trash can or something like that. Yeah. 

Torin Hofmann: [00:50:32] Yeah, no, I get it too. And that's why it's almost like it's up to the, each individual to.

Check the boxes, like do their due diligence on these, uh, gurus, right? Like watch some YouTube videos. I feel like I'm pretty, like, I can figure out people like decently enough to know if I'm going to get scammed or if this is real. And, and that's why giving more value than asking for like might be the way to do it in this, in this 2021, right.

Is producing YouTube videos that give people value first and foremost, and like finding those like. Yeah, it's such a good offering. That Skillshare is such a good offering right now. If you set up a course, because it's like, they get offered all that info, all that value for free, but you get paid for it.

So it's like, that's where the legitimacy is coming from now is that even though Skillshare is maybe not like a university there's classes that have thousands of reviews by other people. Right. And it's like now people are being held accountable, the people, and it's like, as long as the vast majority believes they got value out of it, then.

Probably will as well. 

Joseph: [00:51:38] Yeah. And, uh, this is a good, uh, as good a time as any deserves a YouTube video. I wanted to ask you about in specific where you it's really stood out to me because you were able to generate, I was at 7,000 K in revenue, um, without ad spend, um, which that's kind of like, that's been a PA at this point, and that is the pattern interrupt because we all recognize the importance of advertising and we recognize that we have to spend money on it now.

There was also the element of a hold on a second. He didn't just like pull this out of thin air. There were prerequisites in order to be able to pull this off. Um, so would you be willing to share the experience with us and how are you able to accomplish it? 

Torin Hofmann: [00:52:16] Sure. So like when I got into marketing or even online or digital marketing back in, I think I graduated in.

2009, 2010. Yeah. Um, everyone was still on about email marketing and, and the list, right. Money's in the list. So the majority of your marketing dollars should be spent trying to grow your list. Um, and a lot of online gurus are talking about email marketing, not this Facebook advertising kind of thing yet.

Right. It wasn't this Insta buy. It was more like build your list, build your list, build your list. So, yeah, so like, Early on whatever business I was doing. I started to do that. Build, build an email list, but with proper flows and drip campaigns coming out of them. So like before you set up any of these campaigns, just spend a day writing out four or five emails that might go to these people before you ever ask them to buy something.

Or as soon as they sign up to your list, right? Tell them about yourself, give them a bunch of value. And so it's like making these drip campaigns creating. Actual value for people when they go to your website, um, is a lot easier when it comes time for like black Friday, cyber Monday, any kind of like people love deals.

So it's like you create a list big enough that even at a 1% conversion rate, you're making money. So it's like, I kind of titled that video, obviously for YouTube being clickbait, but it's like full-blown yeah, it's a strategy. Email marketing is still around, like build your list. People know about you.

They feel more comfortable with you. Like people think. Like drop shipping. Everyone thinks, Oh yeah. People would just see my ad once on Facebook and purchase. And like that happens maybe like rare, like rarely does that happen, where there's a product someone's willing to buy instantly like that other products, especially higher ticket products, they take more touch points, right?

It's like, I'm not trying to go on Facebook and sell someone a $1,200 coffee table. No, one's going to buy that the first time they see it. Right. I don't know this guy not going to drop my, that kind of money on it. 

Joseph: [00:54:21] Uh, a lot of this has to also, uh, tie into one of the terms that you've used in the video.

Um, I think you, you also said it in your Etsy, uh, when you were at sea videos as well. Uh, at least I think there's multiple, cause I know I just looked at one, um, because you talked about the customer journey and, and a lot of what you're describing here ties into that where you, the, yeah, you cannot get, cannot reasonably expect a customer to, to blow $1,200 on something without.

Uh, any further investment and, well, I mean, I don't know. I'm sure there's just, I'm hearing about you. 

Torin Hofmann: [00:54:54] Yeah, exactly. Yeah. It's hard. 

Joseph: [00:54:55] Um, so how did you, like, I I'm surprised that I hadn't really heard somebody use the term customer journey before, or maybe it's getting to the point where some star fists are gonna leak out the other side.

I wouldn't be surprised, but, um, how did you like, uh, come across the idea of the customer journey? And so generally, what do you do to implement it?

Torin Hofmann: [00:55:13] Also, a good question. 

Cause I was, um, in. Coming out of university, like dropshipping, right? Like, Oh, that's the dream? Just like sell shit from China to Americans and make millions.

So what I don't think I realized right away is that like, there's a certain threshold, like very, not many, uh, drop shipping stores have an average order, like under. Or sorry, over a hundred bucks. Cause that's a lot more of an investment for people, right? People don't buy that instantly as often. So when I got into meeting my business partner and selling these higher ticket items, I think that's sort of, I got smacked in the face when I started advertising.

And like, why isn't anyone buying is like, maybe it's way too fucking expensive. So they're not going to see it once and want to buy it. Right. So instead this is where yeah. I got my experience in customer journey where it's like, Hmm, Instead, why don't I just create a bunch of content in the business, whatever the piece of content did the best or I'd have people like the most, I would take that piece of content and advertise that because I already knew it's going to do really well.

So I'd advertise that piece of content. And then of course, when anyone likes the piece of content, you're able to invite them back to like your page. And I just started doing that growing the page more organically, posting more on Facebook. Contacting these people, seeing that. Like word of mouth. And when you contact your own customers and there's doing saying, Oh, that's awesome.

And they're posting pictures of the product to your page. It just starts building the trust organically. And so then it's like, maybe you forgot about my company a month later, but because you're still on my email list now it's black Friday, cyber Monday. Hey, you remember me? You trust me, you know, people think good stuff about me.

Now you have a budget to purchase my. Uh, coffee table. Right? So then I would retarget people because I could get them retargeted because of how many times have already touched them. And they've gone through the journey of what our business about w they support it. And now it's just money. It's just like, there's a few days a year.

We just made awesome. Cause we had like two and 10,000 people person email lists, like in the first year. And it just like doubled tripled because. Yeah, our secret was giveaway something and in return for an email and like, we'd be like giving away a coffee table, which would be like 1200 bucks and we'd get like 2000 emails.

So it was like, Holy shit. We'll just then send an email to those 2000 people and sell 10 more coffee tables that we'll just pay for that one. So it was kind of like just growth hacking that way. 

Joseph: [00:57:54] Hmm. Yeah. I, the, the most expensive thing that I've bought online so far, um, I don't know if you've seen these or not, but it's this, uh, portable monitor, um, from this company called desk lab.

And this was like early in my ability to comprehend the e-commerce space and it wasn't like a 400, 400 bucks for a touch screen monitor the thing for me, uh, speaking from the perspective of a customer is that. I really wanted a touch screen monitor. Um, I had a number of reasons, some of which were game-related, but not all of them.

And the, the, I knew that I was a target market for, and so they did keep targeting me and they kept being on my mind. And, but what they didn't do was they didn't really give me a chance to give my email or anything like that. They just kept advertising. Yeah. Cause, cause they knew that I was like highly intuitive.

Like I really, really wanted this thing. Um, Down the line. I've seen other companies now they're selling it too. It's hilarious. Seeing like what some of these people try to get away with. It's not called desk lab to them, to them. It's like a porta mana or something like that. Pulled that off out of thin air, but I see the, the, the desk lab monitor with the name on it.

It's still on the, on the commercial. Like it, it makes me laugh like what some of these people are trying to get away with. And what it does too, is also makes me wonder like, well, if that's them doing that, then desk lab make these, or did they also get from manufacturer? And were they the ones that were like drop shipping a product before somebody else was?

I dunno. 

Torin Hofmann: [00:59:23] Like the whole world is basically run on drop shipping and it's like, so. Yeah, this will blow your mind. I didn't even mention it, but when I was with my selling, this furniture and decor, we got approached by Wayfair. Um, the bay.com like Walmart jet, like all like, so they wanted to onboard us onto their online websites.

They didn't want to purchase any of our products beforehand. They wanted to put our products on their website under a different brand name. And then any time we sold it, we would drop ship for them. So I was literally like, we were creating our own products in a warehouse in Calgary drop shipping for Wayfair.

So that's what Wayfair does Wayfair like my whole, the select amount of skews. But the majority of all their products are just basically people they've jumped through hoops enough to put their products on Wayfair. That gets drop-shipped from. So I wasn't, we weren't allowed to put any of our branding on any of our products.

When we sent it to Wayfair customers, we had to send it out within 24 hours or else we got strikes. So it's like, we were, I was shipping. Like I was the supplier drop. I was drop shipping as a supplier, like before I tried doing it the other way around. So the whole world. 

Joseph: [01:00:36] My my past sales job, it was a, well, they called it sourcing.

They didn't call it drop shipping, but what they would do is we would have relationship with different authorized dealers for luxury watches and customers. And so they would go to the website and they would see, Oh, this, this Rolex GMT 50 is available. So that call, and I couldn't just say yes, because technically we didn't have it.

So I said, well, so is this in stock right now? I says, Hmm, well, babe. Okay. Actually. Yeah. Obviously, I didn't do that, but that's what I was going on in my head. And, uh, and I have to explain the process and they'd be like, okay, well, you know what I was, I get my watch. Um, so yeah, like I w I was, I was doing that too.

I didn't, it didn't occur to me, but I know. It's a sign of just how interconnected the, uh, the global market is. 

Torin Hofmann: [01:01:25] Yeah. And if I get emails all the time, like, I didn't know this was coming from China, like, this is bullshit. Like I'm never ordering from you again. I love just emailing them back. Like, do you shop at Walmart?

Or it's like, most of the time at the very bottom of their email, it's like sent from iPhone. It's like, Oh my God. Like, you have to be, yeah. IQ level 50 to send messages like that. Like, I don't want your Chinese garbage sent from iPhone. It's like, Oh man, you're out to lunch and just calming crap out of my, exactly.

So you'll always have haters, but like, yeah. We're so interconnected now, if it's like, if, if it can come from China in two days, then, like, who cares? If that's what you want, you get what you want then who cares where it's coming from? That's in my mind. I'm a very like e-commerce so all the shop local people might hate me for that one.

Joseph: [01:02:18] Yeah. I mean, I I'm, I'm, I'm a mix. Like I will try to support local businesses if I can. Um, because I like I do, I do like experience and size to get a get on my feet and go for a walk. Uh, but it's a blend. Sometimes I'll buy from big boxes. Sometimes I went to buy my TV of black Friday. I had deliberately said I got a support in Canadian.

So I ordered it from Canada computers. I was like, I'm not getting my TV from Amazon. I'm not giving them that wind. Um, we're, uh, we're essentially out of time. Cause I know we, I don't have you for too much longer. So before we, uh, get you on outta here, I also want to make sure that whenever people do like those like limited time drop shipping challenges, uh, that I just like to hear about your experience because it's important to.

For, I want our listeners to hear these stories because if the people who like me are taking forever to get started, I want to hear what you're able to pull off in 12 hours. 

Torin Hofmann: [01:03:10] Oh. So like that challenge was just to get the first sale in, in 12 hours. Okay. So. Yeah. So typically like in any of my jobs shipping stores, that I start, I test products and I don't expect to be profitable.

And like anytime soon, I just hope to break even enough that I can fill my pixel with enough data to get into look like audiences. So it's like, if I can be profitable, that's awesome. So with that being said, it's like, man, I'm usually like, and a lot of people don't understand this, but sometimes I spend five to 10 grand at just break even.

Before I get into the right pixel data to actually go profitable. Get a drop shippers. Don't want to hear that, that they got assigned five grand at just scraping and hopes they'll get the right data out of it. Right? So sometimes people hit products right away that do awesome. And sometimes they don't, right?

Like I'm a proponent of like knowing Facebook's pretty smart. They know how to target. So, um, as long as I'm making sales and it's at my breakeven, I'm fine to continue feeding my pixel data. Uh, so with that being said, those 12 hour challenges are kind of like, yeah. A lot of people are scared to job ships.

So that's like, I don't expect to make a lot of money out of that store, especially when I give away the store or whatever I'm selling. I do it just to be like, look like, I know I've been doing this for a while, but if I can create the store and advertisements and, and whatever, and get it out in a day, like what's stopping everyone else.

Right. Like, that's like, that's the. Right. That's the easy part is setting up a store and testing a product or trying to find a product, right? Like that's the fun part is all that stuff. The hard part is like spending the money, like trying to get the money back, like dealing with customers who aren't getting their products.

Like it's like setting up the whole distribution strategy and how it's getting there. And. It's like, that's, what's frustrating. It's like people can get into it, but if you actually want to make good money, drop shipping is like, it's not easy. It's like, it takes a lot, but just to get started, like to get your first sale.

Yeah. You can slap together a website, grab some pictures and set out a, I think all, I think all I spent was supposed to be 50 bucks a day on Facebook and I got the first sale for. 90 bucks. So like I was profitable day one. I didn't even let it run because like I do multiple of these challenges all the time and not too interested in trying to test more and more products, more just trying to film these videos because people, people like that video.

It did really well for me. So, um, I might try to do more of those, more of those challenges, but yeah, for you, like, I really want you to focus on, look at your niche, try to innovate. Like don't follow all these people that are just trying to sell the same product on Facebook and stealing each other's ads.

And it's just, it looks so bad. Right. And it's like, it can happen, but yeah, that, it's tough. It's it's that initial buy. So you need, like, there's a few things that people need to know in order to get their product. On a platform like Facebook, it has to look trustworthy. You have to look like you're the original seller of the product has to look like they can get it in time if they want to contact you through email or number.

So it's like, there's a lot that go into it. Just to get started, like just to play around as your, as your side hobby. Right. Maybe it does really good. Maybe it gives you a four times ROAS, like ma like who knows? So I test products all the time. Some do, well, sometimes I lose money, but I thought I'm just going to do a little challenge because it's like, If I see an advertisement on Facebook, I almost guarantee I could make sales of that advertisement, but it's not going to be very long.

And it's just like a race to the bottom. It's just like, you're buying up the same ad space from them. You're not differentiated in any way. It's not going to last a long time for you. So right now I'm focusing on, uh, custom manufacturing, some products that almost make it another step, another hoop for people to jump through, um, if they were to try to copy me, but, um, I think that's, I th what's the term drop branding.

Like that's the new term instead of you can still ship from wherever, but it's more about like private labeling getting your own brand kind of thing for people behind. Yeah. 

Joseph: [01:07:25] Yeah. Uh, that's new for me. I haven't turned that term before, but as you say it's or like, yeah, 

Torin Hofmann: [01:07:29] I don't even know if it's a term I've, I've seen it on some of the, on YouTube a few times or on some of the Reddit platforms.

It makes sense drop branding because it's like people aren't buying from these, uh, garbage. General stores anymore. They're buying from full-blown blend jet that looks like they make those blenders, which they, of course don't, but everyone thinks they do. Right. 

Joseph: [01:07:50] So we got to get you on out of here. Uh, I just want to say thank you for everything you've opened, opened my eyes.

I'll I'll I'll say that. 

Torin Hofmann: [01:07:59] That's why you do it. 

Joseph: [01:08:00] Exactly. So the final question before we can get you on at a year, if you have any final words of wisdom, not that you haven't given us plenty already, but. Just anything else that you'd like to share with people, uh, this is the chance to do it, and then let people know how they can, uh, get engaged with you. 

Torin Hofmann: [01:08:15] Um, above anything I think, or to be successful.

It's just being motivated. It's not the smartest. Person's not gonna win. It's whoever's motivated to get there. So, um, just start, just start failing. I failed a lot. You lose money, but it's, whoever's motivated to get there. There's people doing it. The business model exists. You're able to do it. Just get out, be motivated and don't stop.

So I think that's a perfect way to finish it. If any of you guys are interested in any kind of e-commerce jazz I'm into, you can reach me at my website torinhofmann.com or on, uh, on YouTube. I also talk a bunch about that kind of stuff. So I appreciate you having me on the podcast and yeah, hopefully we can touch base again soon. 

Joseph: [01:09:01] I look forward to it. It's been fantastic. All right, everybody, you know what to do, look into his content. And then I get in touch with us. If you have anything you want to share with us, that's podcast@debutify.com and we will check in soon. Take care.

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