Sydney Bencriscutto on His Journey From Music Artist to Options Trader to eCommerce Successby@0xjack
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Sydney Bencriscutto on His Journey From Music Artist to Options Trader to eCommerce Success

by Jack LiuApril 10th, 2024
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Too Long; Didn't Read

In my recent conversation with Sydney Bencriscutto, founder of Double Oaks Essentials, we discussed just that- an A to Z guide on launching a successful, million-dollar eCommerce business. What I especially love was Sydney's desire to provide a better life for his family which drove him to entrepreneurship. Let’s jump in. Below is an edited transcript of the full interview.
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How can someone launch a successful eCommerce business?

In my recent conversation with Sydney Bencriscutto, founder of Double Oaks Essentials, we discussed just that- an A to Z guide on launching a successful, million-dollar eCommerce business.

What I especially love was Sydney's desire to provide a better life for his family which drove him to entrepreneurship.

Let’s jump in. Below is an edited transcript of the full interview.

So, you have a very interesting backstory. I love for you to tell us what got you here.

Since I was 12 years old, I was a music artist/entrepreneur. I created my own record label. I would make my own album covers. I would produce the entire albums. I would come out with at least an album a year for about 17 years. I mean, I almost want to lie about the amount of time I pursued it because it's kind of like, come on, man, how long does it take?

But at the age of 30, I decided that now that I have a wife and child now that it's time to focus on them and make an easier life for them.

Like if you don't go to work, you don't eat

My wife wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. And with the job I had, even though it was pretty well paying and it wasn't that bad, I was an electrician, it just wasn't enough. I want to live comfortably. I don't want to have this constant stress of money, and hourly wages dictating my life. I can't keep up with this. And, you know, my commute was two hours.

And once I decided that was no longer going to work, I had to find something to separate myself from the rat race and liberate myself because it felt like It felt like some form of financial slavery. Like if you don't go to work, you don't eat, and I just couldn't take that pressure anymore.

It was during the pandemic that I decided this is going to be my last album. I released my album. So I said, you know what, if, if this doesn't work, which I don't think it will, I'm onto something new.

After your last album, what did you try next?

I got into stock trading for a little bit. And it's an important part of the story. My introductory in stocks was Tesla. Once I saw the Cybertruck, I started investing in Tesla stock. And before I knew it, my thirteen hundred dollar investment turned into fifteen thousand. And then I learned about options trading. I don't know what that was in the stock market, but I got into it. And one of my first options plays, I made like ten thousand dollars overnight.

I stopped my wife from her exercise and I go, look, look at this. I just made $10,000. I told you, I told you this would work. It was just some silly small-cap company and I saw YouTube video on it. And I bought a bunch of call options the night before, I think $450 turned into $10,000 overnight. But this led to like this toxic path of options trading.

Then in the year, I believe it was 2022, that went out the window. Every small cap stopped, all those speculated stocks started sinking and they were sinking very slow. I mean, I remember everyone was talking about how the stock market was still stable and I'm like, I have lost everything. I don't know what you guys are talking about, but the small caps were going down gradually for like an entire year and I was just kind of like holding on to it.

I realized it wasn't a good way to make sustainable money. So I eventually quit that.

I had about $12,000 left. I took it out and I found new ways to make money online, legit ways. And that was print-on-demand t-shirts. I found that these people were making six figures a year selling print-on-demand t-shirts.

You don't have to buy any inventory. You just design the stuff, make a mock-up, throw it on Etsy, on Amazon, on Redbubble, and hopefully people buy your stuff and you make money. I tried that. I put my full effort into it, into learning about it, and trying my best for about, I would say, 90 days or something of the sort.

I didn't sell a single t-shirt.

And then I had a phone conversation my friend Nate and he goes, yeah, I just quit my job. He goes, I'm full-time entrepreneur now.

I was happy for him. But at the same time, I felt my stomach drop. Like, man, I wasted so much time on this silly Robinhood options trading thing. I could have spent that same amount of time like he did, and I would have been able to leave my job.

So that night, I'm like, okay, this t-shirt thing works. I know that the difference between me and my goal is knowledge. So I have to go find it. It's all on the internet. Let me go find it. So I just, I sat down, I put my laptop down and I'm like, okay, how do I sell these t-shirts on Amazon?

Amazon is the best opportunity to make money. So I found the closest thing I found on Amazon and I started watching it and they started talking about something else. They started talking about private-label products.

I don't care if I waste my time, I'm going to learn this. I don't know if it's gonna be a skill that's relevant to what I wanna do, but I'm just gonna learn. I'm gonna learn everything I can to get myself out of this position because I felt, I felt like a slave to the system.

So I watched this video tutorial, and it was like five and a half hours long. I stayed up until 1.30 a.m.

So this is beginning of your eCommerce business Double Oaks Essentials, right?

Yeah, it was a FBA tutorial on Amazon by a YouTuber named Dan Voss. And to this day, I make sure to mention his name because he is the person who really had me find this. He took the time out to tell people about this.

It's basically a tutorial that'll show you the exact steps on how to create your own product and bring it to Amazon and sell and how much money you can make doing it.

And this shows you every step of how to do this and how to do product research. And there's a certain software that you can download called Jungle Scout or Helium 10. And it shows you the numbers behind the Amazon products that you buy every single day.

And that alone broke my mind. I was like, you gotta be kidding me. This person is selling a turmeric clay mask, and they're making $140,000 a month. And there's 16 of them. And if I look at this neck massager, they're making $240,000 a month, and there's 20 of them. And it just goes on and on and on. And I'm like, this is what I can do.

My whole life I was competing with Drake and like the biggest rappers in the world.

And the part that really struck the most about it was that I could be creative. There's a lot of products on there with very low effort in branding and how they present their product. You can't pronounce any of the names. They don't have vowels.

So these are the people that you're competing against. And I was all for that because my whole life I was competing with Drake and like the biggest rappers in the world trying to get some attention and trying to get people to listen to me over them.

So when it came to this I was like, oh I can I can make a way better-looking product than these people and I can brand way, but I have all these tools. I know how to make graphic art I know how to make all these things that I've learned in the 20 years prior to this.

After that video, I took six pages of notes, I learned everything I could about it, and that set off a trail of obsession. I wanted to learn every single thing about it. At this point in time, my job was driving me nuts. I had to get out. This was my the way out, and nothing could stop me from getting there.

Of all the products you could have sold, why did you gravitate toward whiskey smokers?

It fit into Dan Voss's criteria. So for beginners, and if you wanna sell on Amazon, and for any of the viewers, don't just focus on Amazon. Don't just focus on an Amazon business. This is a business, period. And what you're trying to do is to appeal to everybody. You don't wanna be on just one platform because that leaves you very vulnerable. Amazon could shut you down like that and you don't sell anywhere else.

You want to be able to sell on your own website on Shopify. You want to possibly sell on Etsy. But you want to be able to sell your own product on your own website the most because you control that.

And that's why it was so valuable at that time. It's a little less relevant now. So if you're looking at it now, I would look at his updated videos, but you have to find a product that you identify with and understand.

Me personally, I would create a product that is going to be your hero product that's going to start your business and that you can expand from. So you don't want to just sell some weird shower caddy, and you're in this super-saturated market, and you have no way of differentiating yourself.

That's probably the trickiest part of it, but that should be the trickiest part of it. You want to take your time on this process. So whiskey smokers were, they fit the criteria as in they made a lot of money every month and the top three competitors didn't have any more than 1000 reviews, which means that people searching for these, this product on Amazon are willing to buy a product with less reviews.

So you have a chance at zero reviews. You know, you're not going to come out. Just rocket ships off the bat, but you have a chance to get started and people will give you a chance if you differentiate enough.

So I tried to create a new brand aesthetic that I wasn't seeing everywhere else.

How much of the sales now come from your own website versus marketplaces like Amazon, maybe Etsy? And how did you transition from just selling on Amazon to selling through your website?

In the first year that I launched, I focused only on Amazon. And it was going pretty well, but the cost of advertising really made it hard. I made it work for the time being. I did have a lot of business credit built up because of the 20 years. I had my LLC since 2014.

I had business credit cards that I was just using to get the business launched. The first year was pretty much all Amazon and then I, in the last like four months or so, I went to Etsy and Etsy. The product kind of exploded on Etsy, and that became my most profitable marketplace.

It's really hard to recommend Etsy because it's not like a marketplace that you can just climb the rankings at your free will. It's kind of hard to scale on Etsy. I wouldn't recommend that to scale. But it is a good if you have a product that is crafty and it is unique. You can't sell like electronics on there.

It's a good place for getting a few profitable sales a day and that really makes a difference in your total advertising cost and your profitability of each day. You know, $200 on Etsy goes a long way when you're spending $200 on advertising for Shopify. So first year was just Amazon, a little bit of Etsy. And then I started to realize I couldn't make a business work too well on Amazon because I just wasn't coming away with profits.

They have this weird payment structure where it's like you only get the payment two weeks or like two weeks or so after it's delivered. And it's this really complex payment thing. It doesn't really make it good for cash flow. Cash flow in this business is everything.

Did one product alone help the business get to a million dollars in revenue or was it two or three?

The cocktail smoker was definitely our hero product. It had the majority of sales. Then we expanded to the whiskey infusion kit, which kind of like complemented it and added to the sales. And then February of the next year, my stepbrother was also in this business.

He was doing an e-commerce business as well but wasn't having as much success. So he wanted to do something with me. We created another brand called Royal Clips. We worked on it from February and finally released it in July, like July 1st or so. And that really helped us get to a million in revenue.

It was a pretty quick success. It was better than anything else I've ever done. But in the span of six months, we scaled to $216,000 or so in revenue. And now, we're doing nearly six figures a month just on off-holiday season.

But yeah, just continuing with the cocktail smokers. And then I created wallets, minimalist wallets, and a few other things. And we really scaled up from there. But I would say in about 18 months, I crossed a million dollars in sales. Not profit, but a million dollars in revenues.

What makes a good e-commerce entrepreneur versus one that isn't?

You gotta really want it. You gotta really want it, I wanted it more than anything. I sacrificed any form of social life or anything like that to do this. I was obsessed.

Don't try to cross the desert on a full stomach. You gotta be hungry.

The metaphor I use is you don't try to cross the desert on a full stomach. You gotta be hungry. You really do. And I was, I felt desperate. I felt like I was backed into a corner. I believe that is necessary.

And I wouldn't advise anyone to get into entrepreneurship unless they do that. And you have to fail. You have to be okay with failure. That is what's necessary. Yeah, if you've never failed and you don't want it bad enough, you're not gonna be able to make it through the ups and downs. It'll just, it'll tear you up.

What challenges do you face now in trying to scale the company?

The challenge for us right now is staying in inventory. Our products are working very well. And we just keep running out of stock. So you don't always have the capital when you need it. So sometimes you have to dip into a capital loan or something like that.

But that's a good problem. I wouldn't see that as much as a challenge. But the biggest challenge, in general, to get something like this off of the ground is finding the cheapest way to get sales. And I don't mean cheap as in like don't spend money at ads or whatnot. It's more about creating the right ad.

Sometimes, your product may be great, but your ad is just not really conveying the message well.

You show something and people don't even know what it is. You gotta understand when people are scrolling all day, they spend hours on their phone and they've got so much fun stuff to look at, if you wanna grab their attention, you have to grab it right away and they have to know what it is within a second.

You want to have the right ads and the right product at the right price.

So there's techniques and stuff to the ad part, which that's a very important part in this business is you have to learn how to capture people's attention, convey your message as fast as possible, get people to convert on your website as fast as possible.

Yeah, so that would be the biggest challenge for other people starting off eCommerce.

You want to enter businesses where there's just millions of dollars flowing every month, potentially, you know, a lot of winners in that space. So that's another challenge I've faced is the wrong product, right ads. You want to have the right ads and the right product at the right price.

Anything else you want to add before we finish the interview?

You can do anything, not everything. So if you want to get into this business, try to avoid shiny object syndrome. Focus on making a quality product first. And go for it.

Try your best, learn as much as possible. That would be the main key, learn, learn.

If you want to hear more, check out my full conversation with Sydney Bencriscutto. And if you enjoyed this article, tweet at me @jackzliu and let me know your thoughts!