founder

Sunken Stone Founder Adam Weiler Talks Amazon Expertise

Summary

E-commerce continues to grow and dominate the consumer market. And there’s no denying that Amazon is one of the  most used hubs for e-commerce. But selling through Amazon can often be a time-consuming and complicated process. From stiff competition to timed customer inquiries to distribution issues, being part of the Amazon marketplace is a major commitment for businesses.

Sunken Stone wants to make that commitment simpler and easier to handle. Through a trademarked software platform, the company helps other brands as they establish their Amazon presence. We sat down with founder and CEO Adam Weiler to discuss his team’s Amazon expertise and the question of acquisition.

Note: This interview was conducted over phone and email. It has been lightly edited for clarity and length.

Olivia Strobl
Can you give us a brief elevator pitch for your company?
Adam Weiler

We are a performance based, full-stack Amazon management platform. We use our team and technology to increase a brand’s success on the world’s largest e-commerce marketplace.

Olivia Strobl
What inspired you to take the leap and build this company?
Adam Weiler

I started selling my own products on Amazon in 2007 off a credit card cash advance, and I did that for a number of years until in around 2015 I took my first consulting gig and took a company from a six figure to eight figure run rate in six months. I realized that this was the future and built the team around this as our core competency. We currently have around 85 brands under management with a team of 20 here in the USA and about 40 internationally.

Olivia Strobl
What past experiences prepared you to start, build, and lead your company?
Adam Weiler

I think just being part of this Amazon ecosystem since 2007, I’ve been lucky and insightful to position us for success. It’s like we’re on this wave that keeps getting bigger and bigger, and we happen to have this amazing skillset and team to maximize it.

Olivia Strobl
What is your vision for the future of the industry you are operating in?
Adam Weiler

I think what’s happened since COVID-19 is that four years of future growth got condensed into six months, and that all the planning, strategy sessions, execution over the past two years has paid off by putting us in a perfect position to succeed. It sounds funny but I have been using the ant and the grasshopper story to describe what’s happened and that we were perfectly prepared for this growth in the market.

Olivia Strobl
Who is on your team and how did you come together?
Adam Weiler

We have about 20 team members in the USA and about 40 internationally. I’m the remote CEO in Seattle and the vast majority of the team was in San Diego pre-COVID. One thing that’s changed and has been the ability to find amazing talent all over the country that in the past we wouldn’t have even looked at when everyone was in a big office in San Diego.

Olivia Strobl
Do you have any competition, if so, how do you differentiate?
Adam Weiler

There are a handful of other companies doing similar things at our size or larger. The space is pretty blue ocean right now and there’s still a lot of collaboration among the industry. Over the past year (and especially the past few months) there has been a good number of transactions in the space and it seems like everyone our size and up is either getting acquired or getting injections of outside capital to scale. We differentiate with our team and technology — our team, with over 100 person-years of Amazon experience, has just seen and done all of the edge cases that Amazon is famous for. Our tech (which we started getting serious about about 1.5 years ago) is the engine that allows our team to scale efficiently. One example is an inventory reordering process that used to take 35+ minutes per brand now takes less than 2 minutes and is more accurate to boot.  

Olivia Strobl
What does your business model look like?
Adam Weiler

We’re going to sell about $35M of gross sales worth of product through Amazon this year. On that we’ll retain about 10% or $3.5M of net sales to run the business on. We’ll have OPEX of around $3M, giving us an ending EBITDA of around $500k.

Olivia Strobl
What brought you to equity crowdfunding and how do you intend to use the money you raise this round to scale the business?
Adam Weiler

I think equity crowdfunding is the future of raising capital (if it’s not already). I’ve been in EO (Entrepreneurs’ Organization) and other mastermind groups for years, and seen friends and colleagues grow and sell their businesses and wished I could have come along for the ride.  I think that equity crowdfunding is tailor made for someone with deep industry knowledge and a great network. We’ve been lucky and grateful to raise almost a third of the round from that network. It says we’re doing something right when other Amazon experts and other successful entrepreneurs are putting their hard-earned money in with us. We’ve already started the hiring process for two additional developers and a technical project manager as we scale out the dev team (and are working on some other things that I’m not allowed to talk about for another couple of weeks but that will continue to help us scale).

Olivia Strobl
What do you want potential investors to know about you and/or your company?
Adam Weiler

Just when I look at a potential angel investment from the investor side I look at three things — team, tech, and trend. I think we nail each of those items, and the future is bright for Sunken Stone.

Olivia Strobl
As you think about the business 5-10 years down the road, what do you see exit opportunities looking like? have you set any future goals for the company?
Adam Weiler

I’m quite sure I’m not handing this business down to my 10 month old to run. All of our growth, revenue, profitability goals center around a 3-5 year timeline, although I have been approached multiple times by other companies or investors looking to purchase some or all of us already. We have different categories of potential acquisitions including larger agencies, Private Equity rollups, CPG holding companies and logistics companies. We’re going to keep doubling down on our Amazon expertise and keep building out the technology in order to maximize that exit for our investors. 

We at KingsCrowd are excited to see where Adam and his team take the company. Sunken Stone is currently raising on Wefunder.

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About: Olivia Strobl

Olivia comes to KingsCrowd with a background in venture capital and technology. She spent time at Glasswing Ventures, an AI-focused venture fund in Boston, before joining the KingsCrowd team. There she helped develop machine learning algorithms for the opportunity qualification of preseed and seed-stage startup companies. Prior to her time at Glasswing, Olivia worked in a lab studying the neural correlates of attention. She holds a degree in Neuroscience from Wellesley College.

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