Founder and CEO of IYS Enterprises, Isaac Scharf, shares his entrepreneurial journey and the lessons he learned along the way.
Have you ever doubted whether you have what it takes to build your business?
Growing a business is not easy. That’s why I am thrilled to share this interview with my guest Isaac Scharf, the founder and CEO of IYS Enterprises, INC. and Pillow Guy, as he retells his own fascinating entrepreneurial journey, from successfully launching a restaurant in the Catskills, to selling life insurance, to running a thriving moving company, and ultimately breaking into the pillow and bedding industry.
There is so much to learn as Isaac shares with us his wealth of experiences and what he discovered along the way. He breaks down the way you need to approach and understand your brand and the products that you’re sourcing. Isaac also shares how you can get your products to retailers and e-tailers, and offers valuable insight into recent trends within the eCommerce marketplace.
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Lessons from an Entrepreneurial Journey—with Isaac Scharf
Our guest is Isaac Scharf. He is a born entrepreneur who started his first profit turning business at age eighteen and hasn’t stopped since. He is the Founder and CEO of IYS Enterprises, which sells home goods and luxury bedding products to the global market. Isaac owns multiple brands and he’s working on his newest startup, The Pillow Guy. Isaac and I discuss his vast array of experiences running businesses from the food line, life insurance to running a full-fledged moving company and his brands in the luxury bedding and home good products. He explains everything you do as a business owner. You’ve got to feel fulfilled in what you’re doing. Something more than just the money. If you’re looking to get your products into retailers, or eTailers as we call them, how to think like an eTailer and how to prepare your product lines so that they are attractive to those buyers. Finally, the practical tips, Isaac shares how you have to prepare for 2020 and how he sees the marketplace of eCommerce moving ahead.
Isaac, thank you for joining me.
Thanks for having me.
You and I have known each other for a while. I’m happy to say that you’re a part of the PTEX family as a client. I would be able to work with you on some of the brands you’re aggressively building out. For our readers, I want to get back, I know when I read a little bit about your history. It’s not only what you’re doing, it’s started as early as middle school. I want to get a little bit of your story so our readers can understand where you’re coming from. Which industries are you already in? We’d get to the businesses that you’re running.
Always from a young age, I had this business mind of going out and trying to create something that I can sell for a profit. In middle school, I would collect baseball cards and then I’d try to figure out, “How can I bundle these cards together and package it and then make some money?” I lived in New York. I’m putting all the Yankee cards or the Net cards together, selling them as a bundle and making a profit on there. Also, going to Costco and buying things for the class and then reselling it there. I always had this type of spirit in me that I would like to create a business of some sort.
You always say that there’s the expression sometimes in real life, which is, “The kid with the lemonade stand.” Usually, it’s not only the lemonade stand, but it’s also the type of kids that has that fire to start transacting.
I would do things like that. I was never regular standards. I’m always trying to create something of value even at a young age, more than the product. I always felt that no matter what I was going to do, it was going to be a value-added proposition. Either it’s customer service or creating a better product than what’s out there or a simpler way to get that product. The first business that I went into with money and investing was at the age of eighteen. With my brother, we built a pizzeria. That was my first step into the business world of understanding how treacherous it can be, but yet rewarding. I would be there from 8:00 in the morning, sometimes until midnight at a young age. Plus, I was hiring staff already, managing the staff and running the books for the business. I did a lot at that young age and learning. I was exposed to the stock market at a young age as well. That’s where the finance and the business part of things came into my life, but it’s not simple and it wasn’t an easy road to get to even where I am and yet I still have much more to learn and to grow.In a horse, it’s not always necessarily the fastest horse that wins but the most focused one. Click To Tweet
We’ll touch on that and go in a little bit deeper as we continue our conversation. What people need to hear from an early stage in their life is that growing a business is not easy. It comes with the pain points, responsibility, hustle, all that. It’s a package deal, but that’s what we sign up on when we decide we’re going to open our business.
We’re signing up for that and there’s a lot of reward for that as well. To advise anyone young starting and trying to wrap their head around starting a business, it’s challenging but if you keep your eye on the prize and continue a steady way, you will be successful. It takes time and patience and a lot of people don’t have that. I tell younger people that work for us or ever came into my life, in business that put on the blinders. It’s almost like, you go to a horse race and it’s not always necessarily the fastest horse that are winning. It’s the most focused horse. When you watch a horse race, they have these blinders on the side of them that they can’t look at the other horse that’s on the side and distract them. It’s much like that in business. If you stay focused on your goal and that finish line, you’ll be fine. There are to be challenges of course, but nothing happens overnight. A lot of the success stories that we see that we’re familiar with in the world.
Even the Ubers of the world, the huge publicly traded companies or even Amazon, they all started in a basement or an idea. These people stayed focused for a long time and they did not become successful overnight. The overnight success stories usually don’t last and you know that. Most of these successful companies are focused for a long time on their goal and they have patients. Some advice would be to focus, have patience and you can succeed at any type of business you want to do. You have to be passionate about it. You have to want to do, and not just for the money, but there have to be other reasons that you’re out there doing this.
Being in the service business and the food line, you went onto a moving company, which is a different space. Before we speak about the moving company and that experience, if you have to look back and reflect the time that you have the pizzeria, what would you say was the most fulfilling part? You mentioned it’s not only the money is the fulfillment and it’s everything that an entrepreneur gets from working in the business. What would you say that the time of your life with you?
When I did the pizza shop, I don’t take a lot of time to reflect, which is a problem, but I’m not a big reflector in general. I learned from my experiences. I would say in the pizza shop with everything that I’ve ever done in my life, challenges, businesses and different experiences. The pizza shop was by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I was a young age and working hard hours and working extremely difficult. The food business, in general, is hard and everyone knows that and retail food, you’re dealing with people. The most rewarding experience I had from that was we had a lot of families that would come in. This was in a family area and it was a pizza shop. Seeing people enjoy the food that we would put out that was the best experience. That was the most rewarding part of the pizza shop. It wasn’t worth all the money that we made. We didn’t make a ton of money. We were doing well for what it was. There was nothing more rewarding than making people happy with their food and food makes people happy if you’re giving them good stuff. We had a great quality product.
We’re the only ones that we originally brought in part of the little specialty about our pizza. We spent a lot of money on shipping in from Seattle, a real wood-burning oven from wood stone. The oven would only work by putting logs of wood and putting fire. There was no gas and no coal. It was running on woodfire. It was a specialty type of place, but we were able to provide. It’s a pizza, but it was a special pizza and that was the best part of it, seeing people and families happy.
I’m happy that you’re sharing this because for our readers, we’ve seen a common theme on the show, even on the content I’m sharing that you always have to have something more fulfilling than the money. Otherwise, you get burnt out. There’s much comes along with building a business and if you close that shop. That day you had that experience where a family member you saw at a birthday party or you saw a family having a good time and then you think only for that experience is worth all the effort I put in. We were on a business we want to make money. You can’t keep the lights on but we need fulfillment.
There was one thing that stood out at this age of what we were able to do with the pizza shop to make people happy. We were in the Catskill. This is where we started it. We were trying to draw business. I was always trying to figure out how we can grow. This was before the internet. There was no Google. It was paper advertising and putting yourself into the flyers. Every Thursday afternoon, I’d have my pizza guy make me 100 pizzas. I would go in the afternoon, I had a little station wagon. I fill up my car to the max and drive around to all the different bungalows, the different areas where people have their summer homes. I take one of those blow horns and they’d say, “The pizza man is here.” All of a sudden, all the kids would come running. Every Thursday, we would sell out within 30 minutes of driving around to these different places. They knew that we were coming by the end of the summer. Everyone was anticipating it and they were waiting for us to come and you would get rid of it. That was a lot of fun. This is another way to market it as opposed to trying to get people to come to you. Go out to them, offer them the product and you even charge a premium for that. That was a great experience as well. Besides selling pizza, learning how to market a little different than maybe your regular and your marketing.
Do you move to the moving company?
In between, I was doing a couple of things because I was in school also. I was getting my degree in Finance and I got married and had a family. I was working in doing selling life insurance, which was before the moving company. It was something to get me buying. It also made me realize that you have to do what you love. You get burned out. The money is not the end-all goal. It can’t be. When I was doing insurance and I was pretty successful, I was making Million Dollar Round Table. I had all these awards, but it was not fulfilling. I was not interested in it that much. During that time, I was saving a little bit. I invested in some other things during this time of insurance. About seven years into it, I met someone and we became friends. Randomly, one day I called him up to see how he’s doing. I said, “How’s it going?” “I have some extra money. Do you have any investments that you’re looking at, whether it was real estate or some other deal?” I said, “Yes, I’m looking at this transportation. It’s a moving company.”
It wasn’t even a storage company. It was a moving company, small business in LA and the guy had to get out. You are selling the assets. You are selling the business. I put in 50% to come in as a silent partner and all of a sudden within six months, we made all of our money back. Profitable from day one and we got our investment back in six months. I started spending a little bit more time on it because I enjoyed it the business part of it. We weren’t doing the schlepping. We weren’t doing the moving, but we appreciated what we can do with it. We were in Los Angeles. I was living in New York, but I invested in this business in LA. About a year and a half after we bought it, I moved to LA and started working in the business. Even though I started as a silent partner, I came in and I got involved in the company with my partner.
What happened afterward?
I gave it. I told him, “I’m coming in a silent partner. I’ll give it six months to see what happens.” We took this business that was doing about $180,000 in revenue a year. It was a small business, but quite profitable for what it was. After the first year that we bought it in June 2008 and 2009, we broke $1 million in revenue from $180,000. We had the moving company that compliments it more than a storage business. From the moving business, we created a storage company. We were able to negotiate a good lease for rent from subleasing from someone that we were helping out with some of the transportation for his company. He had a lot of warehouse space. It worked well. We turned this whole moving into a moving and storage company. In less than three years, we were going from $180,000 sales to about $3 million.
At that point, we split off. We spun off the storage business and we sold the moving components of it. What’s interesting that I learned during that time, which was big for my growth in other companies and other businesses and this is advice for anyone going into business. Being handed things where there are handouts and then there are opportunities. It’s important that while you’re growing your business and you speak to different people, you’re networking and you have someone that you knew through someone else that gives you the advice, the time or the opportunity. You should realize that and appreciate and have gratitude towards that because there are many times through this business that we met different people that saw us as we were young. We were 25 years old starting in this business and you were working hard and they realized that with their assets and whatever else they had.
They were already older and they saw an opportunity to help someone else out. There’s a great book, I’m sure you heard about it called The Go-Giver. It was something like that. On the flip side, you are the one that is receiving and it’s important to know how to receive. I learned through that business how to receive. It’s important to do that and appreciate that. Sometimes it goes a lot farther than getting a loan or getting some money from someone. It’s a lifetime opportunity. Anyone that’s starting should find those little times that they’re receiving it from someone and learn how to appreciate it and grow their business throughout and have gratitude for life. It’s important. If you have that gratitude when you’re growing your business, it will also be a lot more fulfilling.When you have gratitude, growing your business will be a lot more fulfilling. Click To Tweet
You spoke about opportunities. You have gone in different markets in your lifespan as far as entrepreneurship and businesses. We didn’t even get through the core business, which is in the linen space. The question is for a personal reading this and people starting maybe they’re in business and they constantly see opportunities coming their way. How do you evaluate the opportunity? Is this something that goes from this to that?
Are you talking about switching from one type of business to the other or seeing in your business that opportunity?
A combination of both. This might be your way of thinking. I want our readers to know your perspective because you are going from different spaces. You were going from that pizza shop to life insurance, life insurance to moving with where you are, building brands in the linen space. How do you evaluate the opportunity to say, “Will this opportunity give me what I need?”
I’ve learned much from each of the things that I’ve done and I’m glad that I’ve been able to do them. I have no regret of doing certain businesses, but I’ll start from the beginning. When I did the pizza shop, it’s like, “Pizza shop, that’s a great business.” You see people with pizza shops. I was young. I was 17, 18 years old and it looks like it’s a great business. Once you get into it, you learn. You could listen to everyone. I didn’t come with experience in the life of a family business. I didn’t know that type of stuff. I learned financing, stocks but when I got into the food business, I realized that on my own, it’s a super difficult business. You have to be providing a product to someone that is perfect 100% of the time. If you give someone bad food, it can be the end. That person will never come back for sure.
If you’re providing a different type of service or a different type of product and it’s not 100% perfect, people understand that at times. I’ll get into the business that I’m in. It’s the personal preference thing and people understand that. I learned that the food business is hard. I had some friends that got into the food business later on and I had a conversation with them. I was trying to explain to them like, “Maybe don’t do this.” They didn’t need to do it. It was more of an experience for them. I said, “Don’t get into this because you don’t understand how hard it is. It’s seven days a week, where you’re working and the only successful food places establishment that you know or when the owner is there.” It’s an owner-occupied type of business. The owner has to be working it. Otherwise, it doesn’t work. I learned from the food business and my way was fun. Great experience, but it’s not something that I ever wanted to get into.
I also learned from that that I didn’t want to be in retail because the food is also much retail. You’re dealing a lot of B2C. You’re selling to the end-user every time you’re making them something specific for them. It’s not easy. It’s a good business for anyone that wants and loves food that wants to be there all the time, but know that you are going to work hard all the time. It might be satisfying and fulfilling for people and there are successful restaurants. The next thing I got into was the life insurance and that was more of a financial play like, “I need to make money.” I never loved it but there is something special about insurance and that is the recurring revenue. Recurring revenue is a great business. If anyone ever wants to get into insurance, and I always said if anyone ever came to me and my child came, “I love this business. I want to get into it.” I’m an advocate for the insurance business. It’s great recurring revenue. You will continue to grow and grow your book of business steadily.
Put those blinders on and stay focused. Within ten years, you’ll be making a nice living. It wasn’t for me. I didn’t enjoy sitting at someone’s house trying to sell them life insurance. I didn’t love the product. I worked for a great company. New York Life was the best company in its category. It wasn’t something that I love. I realized what I learned from that business a lot is that I didn’t want to deal with people at nighttime and selling them insurance. It wasn’t something that was appealing to me for any type of insurance but it is a great business. The reason that I got into the moving company was more of an investment. I do love dealing with the small business aspect of it, the marketing of it. Figuring out systems. We do a lot of Standard Operating Procedures with the moving company. We had from A to Z, from morning to night and what’s happening with each truck. We had systems in place and that was great. We were able to build it nicely. The problem that I found and I learned to go along the way is that you don’t want to deal with people when they’re moving. It is the most stressful day of their life.
You could do research and they’re the ones that are the most stressed out. One of the days is moving day and you can never meet the expectation of the client. You’re there on a day that they’re extremely stressed and they think, “I have a three-bedroom house and I’m moving into it. It’s down the block. That shouldn’t take too long.” It takes a full day if not beyond. Also, you have a lot of employees, which gave us insane amounts of liabilities. I learned from that business. All of this whole education system of my own that I built and I put it into my next business. From the moving company, I learned, first of all, to keep it down. You don’t need to have a lot of employees. We had at one point over 200 employees that we’re managing. We built the moving company from the small little thing in LA. I didn’t get into it, but we opened up four different warehouses. We opened the one in San Diego, LA, Fresno and Sacramento, all across California up and down. We had twenty trucks going from New York to LA and cross country in all these different routes.
I learned from that, yes, it’s a lot of fun time and small business, but you’ve got to look at your liabilities. We had way too many liabilities and too many employees. You’re dealing with trucks, which break down. You’re a physical object. It’s blue-collar workers. You don’t have that much control of what they’re doing and they’re dealing with people’s stuff. There are a lot of liabilities involved. When I went into the next business, I was looking to take all the different aspects that I’ve learned before and go into it. It didn’t matter. I’ll get to what we’re doing and that is in the home textile space. We’re not doing just linen. We’re doing, pillows, blankets, comforters, bed sheets, across the board of what we’re doing in the home space. I didn’t want to have a lot of employees and I didn’t want to have a large amount of liability. It wasn’t worth it for me.
Let’s speak about the home brands. Would you classify all of them as luxury bedding products?
No, I wouldn’t. There are two brands that we have under our umbrella. We have a wholesale brand. The name is called Ella Jayne, and that is more selling across all boards. We go from a lower end type of sheets and pillows to a much higher end. We have PTEX help us with this and they were great. They created for us the story of our good, better, best. In the linen space and the bending space in general, you’ll hear there are a lot that retailers are dealing with buyers. They’re like, “What’s your good, better, best story?” Also, PTEX created this for us, putting us into a home, a hotel and our penthouse collection. Our home collection is our basics and then our hotel collection is a little bit higher end. Our penthouse collection is our super high-end. It breaks up. It allows the brand itself to have three different price points. It’s not like, “Ella Jayne’s all over the place.” No, it’s not. We have our home collection, which is our basics, hotel, and penthouse.
This is something that our readers need to take note. We see this all the time and let me deviate it a little bit. You mentioned PTEX and we work with a lot of people that are building product brands and helping them create that. The reason for that is because many people have great ideas, also great products, but they’re not categorizing it properly. When you’re not categorizing it properly, what happens is that it’s hard to explain to the direct to consumer or even if you go through any of those buyers and the big-box retailers, they don’t know where you fit in. When you come up to them and you’re able to explain, “This is who our brand is as a whole and this is the why and this is the brand story. Here are our product categories,” you could differentiate it. Even if they’re not interested in all of your categories, they could easily say, “I’m interested in your best category because that will fit our needs. The others are already covered,” versus saying no because we don’t know you’re all over the place.
It’s what happened when we approached Bed Bath & Beyond. We sell much online. We sell to their online store, BedBathAndBeyond.com. We showed them the different collections and they’re like, “The home collection, we have all this stuff, but in the penthouse collection, the higher end stuff, there are plenty of those. Show me what you have in your hotel collection” That was our opening into getting into Bed Bath & Beyond. Eventually, we’ll get more products in there. You had to find that little thing that does attract the buyer to your brand. It’s important to set expectations of what you’re selling. If you’re selling a $5 pillow and someone buys a $5 pillow, they’re happy because they know that they spend $5 on a pillow. If you’re trying to sell something that is beyond its price points or even its value and then it doesn’t work anymore.
Speak to us a little bit about The Pillow Guy.
The Pillow Guy is a little bit of my baby. We started the brand a couple of years ago. There are a few stories of how I got the name and what made me pursue it. I wanted to figure out where it would fit into my bedding line. I was doing bedding already before. What we created was I want them to go to a direct to consumer model and we’ve taken all of the information that we had from our other brands. We put it into Pillow Guy to create a simple system of getting the best bedding based on your personal sleep preference. We created a questionnaire on the website. You can check it out at PillowGuy.com. It’s about your personal sleep preferences. How do you sleep? Do you sleep on your stomach? Do you fall asleep on your side, your back? How do you like to lie down and sleep? People go online and most people don’t know what a thread count means. Most of it is marketing and it’s not real. People don’t necessarily know what they like. They just try out different sheets or they’ll touch it, feel it, see if it’s good and then two months later it’s garbage even if they liked the feel of it. We go based on the next question is, how do you like the feel of your sheets? Do you like it cool and crisp? You’d go into a fresh hotel bed, pull off the sheets it’s that crispy feeling.Anyone that's starting their business should find those little times where they're receiving from someone. Click To Tweet
If you like it’s soft and smooth and you don’t have to worry that you’re going to get a bad product. You say, “It’s soft and smooth,” but is it hot? Is it this? Is it that? No. We only use the best materials for the product that we sell you. The next question is if you like down or down alternative? We explained on the website what that means and then you can create your bundle based on your size and color. We’ll ship it to you for free. You got a 30-day free use. If for some reason you don’t like it for any reason at all, you send it back, we pay for your return shipping, you get a full refund. We’ve created an incredible product. Our return rates are extremely low for the industry. You look at other direct to consumer brands, they’re between 15% and 25% return rate. We’re under 10%. A lot has to do with getting to what the person likes and wants and then taking all this data from the sales that we’ve done and put it into Pillow Guy to find what our best pillow is and even make it a little better? What are the best sheets that we have and make it even a little better? It’s a small assortment on Pillow Guy, but it is an incredible product. We’re growing the brand and the next steps of other things.
We have two brands over here and I want to dive in a little deeper. On Ella Jayne, I want to ask you as far as getting into other online retailers. This is something other brand owners are constantly asking themselves, especially in the world of Amazon. People start and build-out brands on Amazon, but then they want to diversify. At which point, what do you need to do to be ready to go to those other retailers? Could you share a tip or two on how to approach those other retailers with your product line?
There’s a lot. It took a lot of work and focus on ideas about how to do this. I will start by saying, as business owners and the creator of the product, you have to start thinking like the retailer. When I got into this business, the only thing I was focused on was eCommerce. People came over to me, even the manufacturers like, “Isaac, why don’t you get into the store? Why did you get into Bed Bath & Beyond? It’s a huge account, get into the store.” I said, “I’m not interested in store.” I saw the landscape of the retail market and I did not believe that the big-box retail is where I’m going to spend my time, focus and energy and that’s going to be the future for me. I felt, and I predicted then that the eCommerce game is not a fluke. It’s here to stay and it’s going to grow. Since then it’s grown 10,000% since I started this business in general eCommerce. When I got into the eCommerce game, I did not start with bedding. I was starting with other things and I was buying things in bulk, big purchase orders of items and then I would create content and sell it on eBay and Amazon.
After doing this for a few months and the money was fine, like I said, it can’t just be about the money. I needed to figure out how can I create a product that I can build content that I can constantly be able to sell instead of spending much time and money on building content for a one-time sale? I’m talking about buying high-end jewelry or expensive watches. I wanted to create a product that I could build out the content beautifully and sell that product for the next several years. That’s how I got into finding products that I can build. Finding those little opportunities when you’re growing your business and be grateful for them. I had some people that I knew in the manufacturing world and they gave me an opportunity of a lifetime. They didn’t give me a loan. They didn’t give me a free product. They didn’t give me money. They gave me an opportunity that they would build the product for me and they gave me payment terms that I thought was the nicest thing in the world. I’m like, “You’re giving me payment terms, I have no credit.”
I take that and I have much gratitude every day for that person that gave me the terms. It wasn’t giving you the world. It’s believing in me a little bit and I was able to take that opportunity and run with it. When I started building the product, I started thinking, “How would I, as an eTailer, want my product to be presented?” It was important to us that we dumb down our shipping product. Because we ship to the end-user or even if we sent it to the DC, the Distribution Center of an eTailer, they’re going to send it to the end-user. You have to be conscious of shipping costs. A pillow is huge. If you take a pillow and you put it into a box and that’s how they used to do it. One or two pillows is a huge box. It will cost you $50 to ship across the country. We were trying to figure out how can we dumb down the packaging. IKEA was doing this for a long time, but we started to roll pack and airtight our packaging small for our product. Also, you have to use only a good quality product. If you use a bad product like a bad pillow and you switch it down or airtight, it won’t come back to life.
We’re using a better product that we were being focused on how we can keep the cost down for the retailer. That was the beginning for me to get into a lot of these online retailers because they’re selling bedding and like, “What’s different between my product and their product?” I’d have to find the differences. One of the huge differences was I will keep your cost of shipping down and I’ll probably make it 50% less than anyone else. If you see our packaging even our sheets. There’s no extra fluff in it. There’s no fancy inserts or boxes or anything that comes with it. It’s rolled together as a sheet set with a wraparound belly band which something PTEX created and we ship it out to the end-user. Instead of a regular sheet that costs $50 to $20 to ship, it costs us $7 to ship. That was a huge part. Think of the eTailer that they would want. Product is important, but also everything else that comes with the product.
This is an important piece of advice for our readers. Take note that when you expand your business or when you’re building your business and then you’re trying to get into different markets or even as the consumer thinks about what the consumer wants. Sometimes people get passionate about the product that the idea they’re creating and not thinking through the business side of things. How much would a person pay for it? It needs to be a fair exchange of value. I appreciate you sharing that. You’re direct to consumer and you’re also on all the different marketplaces. From your perspective, where is eCommerce going? What are we seeing some trends that you’re following and seeing for other brand owners? What opportunities do you see coming up or going away based on where the market is going?
Our focus for 2020, we sit down with everyone, all the managers in the company and we try to figure out our pain points from 2019 and then what are we going to do in 2020? One of the big things that we’re focusing on is in the eCommerce world. I like to call it the Amazon Effect. All the consumers are spoiled already that they have two-day shipping, it’s almost a guarantee at this point. If you don’t get your product then your order it and you don’t get it within two days you start bugging out, “Where’s my product? I can’t believe it. It’s taken longer.” When I started in the business, it used to be a week to ten days. If you’re getting your stuff, you are happy.
What’s happening that I’m finding is that Amazon took you to the next level and they’re doing one-day shipping. You have to get the consumer. The consumer is getting used to already it that if I order something, I will have it. I ordered something on Amazon for my kids and it was Saturday at 9:00 PM and like, “We want this.” We were looking at different things. I said, “Let’s order it.” It says, “Thank you for your order. You will receive it by 6:00 PM.” This was Saturday. I was going to get my product by Sunday by 6:00 PM. What does that do to the consumer? The consumer’s expectations all of a sudden are starting to rise. One of our main things for 2020 that we’re focusing on is multiple shipping points from the US.
We are based in LA and we have a warehouse here. We are looking to expand to multiple warehouses in the Midwest and on the East Coast. Multiple points where we can deliver to the customer at least within two days. That is another thing that the eTailers are going to look for. If someone’s trying to sell to the eTailers, the online retailers, they’re going to start looking at this. They haven’t, but I’m trying to get ahead of the eight balls and focus on being able to deliver to the customer within 48 hours. We’re in LA. If we have to ship to New York for 48 hours, you can do it. It’s going to cost you a fortune. They have to keep their costs down. All these eTailers are going to wake up soon and they’re going to realize, “We’re not profitable in this business. It’s costing us too much. Where can we save money?” A lot of it is going to come from the shipping. Where we’re focusing on how to grow, add value, bring value to the customer, not by the actual product itself, but by something else we’re doing.
We shared a lot and there’s much more to share. Let’s close with four rapid-fire questions. Number one, a book that changed your life?
The Way of the Superior Man by David Deida.
Number two, a piece of advice you got that you’ll never forget?
My grandmother would always say, “It’s better to be looked over than overlooked.”
Number three, anything you wish you could go back and do differently?Product is important, but also everything else that comes with it. Click To Tweet
No. I take all of the experiences that I’ve had in life and I move them. I don’t think there’s anything that I would have done differently. I’m happy.
I love that because it’s interesting the entrepreneurs and the business leaders that have achieved a lot in their life, most of the people answered no on this question.
I’m not saying that I didn’t have hardships, but I’m saying I’m happy about everything that I’ve gone through every experience.
Number four and final question, what’s still on your bucket list to achieve?
I hope one day to retire and live in Israel and study all day. I’m lacking in things and I want to get better, but there’s nothing that I have on my bucket list that I want to do.
Isaac, thank you so much for joining us. I know your time is valuable and that is why in the name of our readers, we will forever be grateful for sharing some of your time with us.
Thank you, Meny. It was a great honor to be on your show. I read them all and I like being on it.
- IYS Enterprises
- The Pillow Guy
- Isaac Scharf
- Million Dollar Round Table
- The Go-Giver
- New York Life
- Ella Jayne
- The Way of the Superior Man
- @PillowGuy on Instagram
About Isaac Scharf
I always knew from a young age that I was a born entrepreneur and that it didn’t suit me to ever work for somebody else. I was driven, creative, and taking risks didn't scare me. I remember in middle school, I would buy random miscellaneous toys or school supplies and I started a small business of selling them to other kids and classmates to make some extra pocket money. I was a little businessman. Soon after that I was trading in the stock markets and already learning how to manage and grow the money that I had saved from my Bar Mitzvah stash or made in school. When I was 18, I was eager to start a real business of my own and make some actual money.
My brother and I, opened a small pizza shop which became my first true exposure into business and the entrepreneurial world. This small pizza shop taught me how difficult and vigorous it was to be in charge of your own business. As a business owner, you are responsible for everything and more. You have to wear so many hats and assume many different roles. I also learned that when you push hard and stay the course you will soon see the fruits of your labor and THAT is so rewarding. We had the pizza shop for three years, during this time I became a young father along the way and I needed to make some more income to support my family. I started working at New York Life Insurance Co. It was a commission based job, which meant I was pretty much on my own anyways. I hustled and worked hard so I made excellent money, but it was not the job for me. The dry nature of the work did not appeal to me at all and I needed to think big and come up with my next business venture so that I could have something of my own.
In 2008 I approached a friend with a business opportunity that came across my desk. There was a Moving company for sale out in Los Angeles and I was interested. Together we bought the business and I moved my family out to LA. The business was very small when we first purchased it, within 3 years we had worked very hard and brought the company up from a $200k to a $3Million annual revenue company. Together expanded the moving company by building an entire storage facility to accommodate any movers that needed to store their items. These businesses worked hand in hand with each other and it was a great business. Since then we have sold the moving company but we still to this day own the storage facility.
When we sold the moving company it was once again time for a new venture. My interest in e-bay and Amazon stocks got me thinking seriously about the e-commerce world. I was noticing the way consumers do their shopping was changing rapidly. Shoppers wanted to do all their shopping conveniently from the comfort of their home. This was in 2013, when the e-commerce world hadn't yet blown up to how it is today, but I knew I had to be silly not to jump on the bandwagon ahead of time. So I got my foot in the door. I started off by going to auctions and buying $200k-$300k worth of goods and building up listings on e-bay and Amazon and selling them for a profit. I wondered how I could create an asset that would be everlasting instead of buying one item and reselling it one time. I had some wonderful connections in the feather and down industry and thought to myself “what is an item that everyone needs?” an item that every single person can be your target market? Bedding. Everyone sleeps and everyone needs bedding. So in 2013 I started an e-commerce company called Ella Jayne. I started by making some great pillows and taking some content shots and selling them online. Over the years Ella Jayne has evolved and I am now selling to big box stores like Macy’s and Nordstrom.
In 2018 I wanted to take my bedding business to the next level. I wanted to create a high end luxury bedding label for men. This company is called “Pillow Guy” and its designed online to make shopping for bedding a simpler step-by-step process for men. Pillow Guy is my latest project and my baby.