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EXECUTION International Sales: Bringing Factories + Buyers Together

Discussion in 'Progress/Execution Threads' started by AgainstAllOdds, Dec 16, 2018.

  1. AgainstAllOdds
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    AgainstAllOdds Legendary Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

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    I'm creating this thread to document the journey of a new business and to show others the process of going from A to Z. "A" being an idea. "Z" being traction or failure. We're giving ourselves a 3-month runway to prove this idea, after which we either fail or prosper.

    The concept in short: Bringing factories and buyers together. Helping factories sell, and helping buyers optimize their supply chain so that they can be as competitive as possible.

    In the past three years, I've brokered over 8-figures in international trade for mentors, friends, and a fair bit for myself. To date, I've taken no commission and plan to take no commission on the existing deals going forward. This is just something I was doing on the side.

    However, I fully plan on creating new deals and taking commission on those.

    Why?

    1. There's a lot of money to be made.

    • At let's say $10MM in sales, that's $300,000 in commission. Any serious importer is doing at least a million in purchases a year. If I get ten small importers, I can hit my goal of $10MM in sales.
    2. I'm really good at sourcing and negotiating deals relative to everyone else.
    • For my main business (other thread, hasn't been updated in awhile), I'm by far the best in my niche in Chicago, and wouldn't be surprised if I was top 5 in the U.S. Why am I so confident? Well, for starters, we're selling to competitors that have teams of sourcing agents. If I can outcompete the competition, and create enough margin to still supply the competition and make a profit, then I know I'm doing something right.
    • I may not be the best in the world, but as long as I'm in the top 10 percent of importers, I have a skill that I can offer.
    • Lastly, I've done this process plenty of times already and saved mentors and friends millions of dollars. I've never charged, so that will change the dynamic, but not by much. The value is there, just have to sell it right.
    3. Foreign factories are really bad at getting customers.
    • Foreign factory reps are hired not based on sales skill, but English ability; top English speaking talent does not work for factories, leaving average talent to choose from. These are the individuals driving international trade. I may be bad at sales when compared to @458's team, but I'm nowhere near as bad as these reps.
    • Now let's say you're a foreign factory. How do you sell? Alibaba. Bidding on random contracts. Or if you have the budget, then you dump a ton on a tradeshow where you need to have the best booth to stand out?
    • To summarize: These factories don't know how to sell, and have offered me on countless occasions a commission to sell for them. It's time to take them up on their offer.
    4. There's a lot of value to be had for all parties.
    • Most importers have highly inefficient supply chains. They use Alibaba, find a supplier, and then pay a premium over time since they're limited in their skills. If they were able to find an optimal factory and lower their costs even 10%, or improve their quality by 10% for the same price, then they would be able to take a significantly different approach to their business. With the potential China tariffs, there's even more reason to care. We can lower costs, provide better quality, and diversify a buyer's supply chain - limiting potential trade risk. There's a lot of value to be had.
    • On the other side, the foreign factories are really bad at selling. Even the top factories in the world have mediocre sales reps. They are filtered based on English ability, and rarely become cream of the crop salespeople. If we can provide the factories with native English salespeople, then we're already lightyears ahead of what's available in their hiring market.
    • 3% is a small fee. It's enough to bake into regular operations and go unnoticed, but big enough for us to make money at scale.
    That's the idea in a nutshell. Now just a matter of execution.
     
    B. Cole, becks22, Sheens and 19 others like this.
  2. AgainstAllOdds
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    AgainstAllOdds Legendary Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

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    The Team

    To start, the team consists of 6 people:
    • Me
    • One of my best friends
    • 4 assistants in the Philippines.
    You guys know a bit about me, so I'll give a quick summary on the others.

    A month ago, one of my best friends was let go from his job. He was flying to California on contract work, and getting paid $1,000 a day to make CBD oil. He'd work there for a couple weeks, make a bit of money, come back, relax for a bit, and then when they needed him he'd repeat the process. Life was good. Money was good.

    Until they let him go.

    After hearing that, we sat down and started writing out all the possible options on what to do next. The conclusion we came to is that he should still do marijuana, but that he'd need a lot more money to get into it, and that raising money in Illinois didn't make sense until it was fully legalized. He's also extremely good at sales, so, this is what we decided to launch.

    The Filipino Assistants

    Now, as for the assistants, w'ere starting with a team of 4. I found and vetted them through Upwork. Created super simple processes for them to follow. Trained them. And now have them working.

    They're creating leads for us and helping build the sales pipeline. They will be the lifeblood on the sales side - getting us the leads we need to then convert. We want only vetted leads, so we're having them spend a bit more time so that our list only has the best of the best.

    All 4 salespeople were hired through Upwork. $3 per hour. 40 hours per week. $120 per salesperson. $480 weekly for all four. This is our current burn rate.

    I plan to let go the worst performers and then replace them with better performers. Rinse and repeat until we're ready to scale the team.

    Why Philippines? Well... I love setting up base in Manila when I'm doing the Asia hop. I think that if we get the right workers, we can transition them into managers and keep building the team as we scale.
     
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  3. AgainstAllOdds
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    AgainstAllOdds Legendary Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

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    The Sales Process

    Right now I'm reaching out to top factories in an industry that I've sourced for before: Quartz, Stone, Granite, and Marble.

    We have a few factories that I've worked with who are onboard. They've already been thoroughly vetted and are known to be extremely competitive in their space. They're all outside of China which is a huge plus.

    After getting the factories, we'll be reaching out to potential importers in this space.

    We want 500 leads per week - that way we can do 100 touches per day. From those 100 hopefully close 1. That'd be a 0.2% conversion rate. I think we can do that. But if we can't, hopefully we can do 1 per month - which would allow us to get the core 10 customers by end of year.

    1 customer per month would roughly be a 0.05% conversion rate - 1 out of 2,000. I think we can do that. If not, that means we have a big problem with our value proposition or sales approach.
     
  4. Tom.V
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    Tom.V Tom Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass Summit Attendee

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    Love this! Huge opportunity here from what I have experienced first hand and market conditions as you described. This type of business on this type of path can get extremely lucrative if you scale it right.

    This is one area where I could see a fully outsourced Filipino sales team working quite well at scale too.

    Looking forward to your progress!
     
  5. AgainstAllOdds
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    AgainstAllOdds Legendary Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

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    Branding

    We don't need anything special to start with, but need a brand, so we put a bit of time into coming up with a name, logo, and simple website.

    The Name

    We named our company after Vasco Da Gama. I won't be linking my site here directly since I don't want this thread to be tracked back to by suppliers or buyers, but if you're interested you can scroll down and check out the site below. Type the website in.

    Why Vasco Da Gama?

    To summarize: He was the real Columbus. Vasco da Gama - Wikipedia.

    He was the first European to connect Europe to India, positioning Portugal as a trading superpower.

    [​IMG]

    He was also a badass. Just look at this guy.

    [​IMG]

    The Logo

    So... after picking the name we started on the logo.

    We decided to hire an Indian company to make the logo. Paid $200 for the logo. They did a horrible job, but we were able to fix it up.

    Here was the process for the logo:

    [​IMG]

    We hired the company because we really liked this logo and that they could draw by hand. We wanted a character, and because of that were limited to the individuals that we could hire.

    This company looked good enough, so we pulled the trigger.

    [​IMG]
    The first logo that we were sent was this, but we hated it. The icon looked too cartoonish and not fit for a consulting company, so we asked for it to be a bit more serious.

    [​IMG]
    The new logo was a screaming Da Gama. The font face was hideous, but the transition was in the right direction. However, a screaming mascot probably isn't the best look for a consulting company. To us it just screamed "buy my shit". We didn't want that.

    [​IMG]
    We had changes done to look like this and were a bit happier - approving the next step.

    [​IMG]

    So... we were giving this. Or in other terms, a "Loony Tunes" logo:

    [​IMG]

    Suggestions were made and some changes happened:

    [​IMG]

    We wanted the earth represented in the background, but the logo was still really bad.

    At this point we decided to take it into our own control. I spent a couple hours in photoshop, and we came up with something that we're now happy with:

    [​IMG]

    The logo still isn't 100% perfect, but it's 90% there, and 90% is enough for us to go forward.





    Now: For those of you wondering why we care so much about the logo (I know a lot of you would call this is action faking)...

    When we're reaching out to potential clients, all they see is our business card and website. That's what's selling our company/expertise. We spent more time than we need to on the logo, but considered it an essential part of creating the brand.

    If you have a consulting company with no verifiable track record, and can't even make a nice logo, then who's going to trust you? That was something we didn't want to find out.

    Next was the website.
     
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2018
  6. AgainstAllOdds
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    AgainstAllOdds Legendary Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

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    Next was the website.

    @Bdenner64 was super nice and offered to build us a website. We wanted to go with him, but thought it'd be faster to just sit down on a Saturday night and put something out there.

    We signed up for Wix, paid $15 for a month, and weren't disappointed with the result. We'll fix the website in the future for conversions, but for now it's good enough.

    dagamaconsulting . com is the website if you want to see the finished product. Sales copy needs to be updated. Website could be improved for conversions. Good enough for now.

    [​IMG]

    The screenshot software I used couldn't capture the background video. Go to the site if you want to see the finished product.
     
    Lex DeVille, Greg R, CareCPA and 2 others like this.
  7. YoungPadawan
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    YoungPadawan Miles to go before I sleep Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    :rofl:The logo trials had me laughing out loud.

    Awesome stuff! I'm sure you'll crush it!
     
  8. AgainstAllOdds
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    AgainstAllOdds Legendary Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

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    • Logo done.
    • Website done.
    • Preliminary conversations with partner factories have started.
    • Meanwhile our team is getting us pre-qualified leads.
    Need to keep pushing forward.
     
  9. AgainstAllOdds
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    AgainstAllOdds Legendary Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

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    How we plan to monetize
    • 3% from the factory.
    • $3,500 consultancy fee from each new client after they place their second order with the factory. If they don't reorder, we don't get paid.
    We wanted to create a risk-free value proposition for the end client. We're going to ask for a $3,500 fee, but ONLY if they re-order from the factory. They have to like the product they're getting, and like it enough to re-order.

    The 3% fee will be baked into the negotiations when the end client and factories negotiate.

    Ten highly vetted factories per client. We'll make this clear to the factories so that they can compete on price.

    Why 3%?

    Because we think it's a negligible amount that overtime can add up.

    Let's say you're an importer. You're placing a $10,000 order. 3% on top comes out to $10,300. We have to create enough value for the importer where this slight increase is never even considered. If it is, that means that we're not providing enough value for us to operate a successful business.

    It's a credit card transaction fee - something no e-commerce seller bats an eye at. It's enough for us to make money at scale, but small enough where it shouldn't effect any of the economics.

    If you do a $1M in imports, paying us $30,000 for one of the most competitive supply chains is not going to change anything. We're cheaper than any employee you'll find, and give you more value than most $150,000 a year employees you can hire.

    I've beat these 6-figure employees time and time again and plan to continue to.

    As for the $3,500. Why $3,500?

    It has to be as low as possible, but high enough to filter out crappy clients. We want people that are importing $100k at a bare minimum. $3.5k is nothing for someone that's doing any sort of significant volume. On top of that, the work we have to do to analyze an entire industry and get deals in place is already a lot higher than that. I've spent thousands on plane tickets. Countless of hours perfecting my craft. And now am spending a great number of hours getting these world-class factories vetted. At a minimum 100 hours, that's valuing my time at $35 an hour. We're definitely providing a lot more value than that - just have to sell the customer on it. If they can't be sold on it, that means that the price-point has to be lowered, or that the client doesn't see the value and in turn isn't a good client to have.
     
  10. AgainstAllOdds
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    AgainstAllOdds Legendary Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

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    The current economic climate

    Why are we doing this now?

    Simple.

    The China scare.

    There's the continuous fear for American importers that 25% tariffs will be put on China. Personally I don't think that will happen, but it's a fear that exists. If tariffs go into place, the value we're creating will be huge.

    Now, why don't I think the tariffs will happen?

    [​IMG]

    But I'm still putting it at a 30% chance that tariffs go through.

    If China thinks that Trump is getting pushed out in 2020, then they'll wait out the election.

    As of a month ago, 1.5 million convicted felons in Florida can vote again, and statistics say they're going to vote Democrat. Florida is most likely going to flip.

    If the Democrats get some more traction, and China starts thinking that the Democrats will win, China will stall any negotiations until the 2020 election.

    Stalling would be great for this business, but not something that I'm counting on. There's a lot of value to be offered, we just have to find a way to deliver it.
     
    Lex DeVille, Greg R, amp0193 and 2 others like this.
  11. AgainstAllOdds
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    AgainstAllOdds Legendary Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

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    Enough posting for now. Need to get back to revenue generating work.

    Feel free to chime in with any thoughts/critiques. Would love to hear some feedback. Maybe @Walter Hay and any other big importer if you have a minute.
     
    Lex DeVille, Tommo and Greg R like this.
  12. AgainstAllOdds
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    AgainstAllOdds Legendary Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

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    Signed 3 sales people up to start calling/outreach. We're starting first week of January.

    Also added my friend in Brazil. She's going to do a bit of factory outreach/support for us in that region.

    Sales reps are all on commission. Brazilian is part-time as needed at $20/hr.

    Team has grown:
    • 2 founders
    • 3 additional sales people
    • 4 lead generators
    • 1 factory rep
    We have a good team. Good potential. Need to grind. Launching start of January.
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2018
  13. MakeItHappen
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    MakeItHappen Silver Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass

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    Insta folowing this thread! Looks really great. Good luck!
     
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  14. Walter Hay
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    The frustrating process you went through is exactly why I advise in my labeling book that the business owner must control the design process when having an artist handle the design.

    If you know what you want - insist that the designer follows your instructions. You know why you want certain design features, but the designers don't have a clue.

    That's why the first draft is usually an exercise in demonstrating their skills.

    @Logomet's website shows that he has the necessary understanding to translate your business objectives into quality logos. That is rare among logo designers.

    I think your venture will serve a great need. Others do something similar but on a smaller scale, and I wish you success.

    Walter
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2018
  15. Logomet
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    Logomet Bronze Contributor

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    Designer should always give an advice, but he/she also has to leave the finnal decision to a client.

    The biggest mistake clients make when comes to a logo design (when they know what they want) is that they just think about how pretty logo will be. They don’t think about how and where that logo will be applied. Will it work perfectly across all media? Those things have to be solved.

    Logo doesnt have to show what you do or decribe you. Logo isnt the love on first sight. The purpose of it is to grow in people over time, people will associte it with you.

    Everybody knows about yellow frame logo of National Geographic......its just a yellow frame, but over the time it becomes “The Yellow Frame”.

    Anyway, just make sure your logo will work perfectly everywhere, on the web and print.

    This was just an advice for anyone who reads this.

    Quote for the end: “Logo isnt a sentence, logo is the dot at the end of a sentence.”
     
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  16. AgainstAllOdds
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    AgainstAllOdds Legendary Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

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    Soft closed 1 factory. Top 10 in the world for their space. Have another in the pipeline.

    Also added my friend in New York to do sales. He's currently in Manila, gets back March. He worked in a boiler room for 8 years (think: Wolf of Wall Street), so should be the perfect guy to head the NY market.

    Been working on this during all my free time. Staying in the office on Friday/Saturday nights, working until 3am to get things going. It's fun.

    One of my beliefs is that most businesses fail because the founders didn't put in the proper effort. If we fail, it won't be because of that.
     
  17. AgainstAllOdds
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    AgainstAllOdds Legendary Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

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    Had some great conversations over the weekend with a handful of factories. Looking to close a few deals after Christmas.

    Also, I was mentioned in this thread a couple times: Anyone have experience with Assembly.com? (Monthly subscription sourcing team) and want to expand on what we're doing.

    I don't think it's smart to hire a random sourcing agent unless you have extremely limited sourcing knowledge. Most agents will be worse than you since they don't understand your industry.

    That's why we're focusing in on just 1 industry, and went through the process of becoming experts in that industry.

    We've sifted through 10,000+ factories and zeroed in on only the best of the best. We won't represent a factory unless we believe it's a world class partner. The 99th percentile. The only way we know who's the best is getting an entire industry picture - which is what we've done.
     
  18. AgainstAllOdds
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    AgainstAllOdds Legendary Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

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    Just checked my email.

    Soft closed a top factory. After our conversion, the owner sent confirmation via email and asked for next steps. F*ck yeah.

    These guys were on our top 3 list of who we wanted to represent. Now have to push on the other two.
     
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  19. AgainstAllOdds
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    AgainstAllOdds Legendary Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

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    Update:

    We're representing 4 factories. Some are really easy to work with. Some are insanely frustrating.

    We started doing sales last week on Thursday (but have been aggregating leads for weeks).

    We have 9 interested buyers now in the U.S.

    One of them is big. $50M to $100M in annual purchases BIG!

    Our sole focus now is to close on that one client. Even at $5M in purchases, brokering a deal could be life changing. A deal that size would be enough to make this a real business (print thousands of catalogs, import thousands of samples, ship thousands of Fedex envelopes to top prospects, make a showroom).

    Need to push further.

    Keeping our head down. If this deal falls through, then just on to the next one.



    Need to take our shots and keep moving.
     
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  20. AgainstAllOdds
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    AgainstAllOdds Legendary Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

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    Another note:

    Have been working with my partner for 100+ hours per week. Every day until even 5 in the morning.

    This isn't easy.

    Another 3 weeks and we'll see if this is a real thing. If it is, I'm flying in Brazil in March to celebrate. If it's not, I'm flying to Brazil in March to forget how much time we've put in.
     
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  21. Walter Hay
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    @AgainstAllOdds I would like to congratulate you on the concept, implementation, and the progress.

    What you are doing is within the realm of the dreams often presented to me when people want to become exporters. I have declined to guide them because it is too big for me at my time of life. Many of the principles you are applying would be relevant on the opposite side of the export/import industry.

    When you have a spare 1/2 hour (5 - 5.30 am?) :playful: you could think about transferring your skills to work with US manufacturers, or ones in other countries, who don't have a serious export presence. Believe me there are a lot of them. This would enable you to work with English speaking manufacturers, and use your team to sell in markets where English might at best be a second language, where there are many people with an entrepreneurial spirit and the money to finance big projects.

    Many manufacturers in Western countries have a very parochial attitude, and are totally blind to what exporting could do for them.

    Walter
     
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    $7,529
    From an Importers point of view, this is a much needed service and glad to see someone executing on such a highly valuable need in this area and sector. If I found a service like yours for the many imports I've done throughout the years, I can't even imagine the amount of money and time I would have saved. Great work, I wish you a lot of success, excited to follow your progress.
     
    AgainstAllOdds likes this.
  23. Bdenner64
    Online

    Bdenner64 Silver Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass Summit Attendee

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    AgainstAllOdds and Sheens like this.
  24. Royce2
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    Royce2 y'all need jesus I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    @AgainstAllOdds I sent you a PM in regards to my future involvement in needing manufacturers etc.
     
    AgainstAllOdds likes this.
  25. B. Cole
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    B. Cole In thine hand is power and might. Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    Wow this thread interests the heck out of me. Bravo @AgainstAllOdds, just seeing you pin down that many factories perplexes me, I’ve been sourcing my butt off and couldn’t come close to identifying 10K legit facilities.

    I’m way too small yet to benefit you as an importer, but am definitely watching.

    You ain’t lying. Just finished paying a designer 350 bucks to create a logo. The first 2 versions got completely thrown away. I ended up making the final logo myself in AI, and just used him for some coloring tweaks and converting to vector files.

    I’ll share with ya in PM.
     
    AgainstAllOdds and Walter Hay like this.

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