In 2018, two taxi drivers in Terrassa, in Spain’s northeastern region of Catalonia, felt they had to change their line of business. Joan Bartra, 45, and Joel Cuscó, 42, had started out together in the real estate business but their business went bankrupt when the financial crisis hit in 2008. They later switched to driving taxis, which was fine until boredom and the arrival of the ride. -apps like Uber pushed them to look for alternatives. “The arrival of Uber makes you more alert, and at 40 you don’t want to drive a taxi until you’re 65,” says Bartra.
Business partners spent months researching online retail giant Amazon which products worked well in the United States and were not yet available in Europe. The product they chose was a foam bumper used to prevent children over the age of two from falling out of bed. They created the brand banbaloo, contacted a manufacturer in China, adapted the product, created a website and in January 2019 the bumper was ready for sale on Amazon. Now, two and a half years later, they’ve sold their creation to Yaba, a new Spanish company that is buying up Amazon sellers and taking them to the next level. Yaba would not reveal the exact price that was paid, but the pair say they received “over a million euros”.
And they are not the only ones to have had a crazy success on Amazon. According to data from the retail giant, 150 companies in Spain made more than €1 million in revenue in 2020. Although Bartra and Cuscó didn’t reveal Banbaloo’s exact figures, they earned up to to €100,000 per month last year, which puts the company in this group.
Despite this, there are still many doubts about this kind of work. “People don’t see this as a powerful business and it’s very serious,” Cuscó says. “When you said you were selling products on Amazon, it seemed like it was just for a little extra money. People don’t tell you about it because they don’t understand it or recognize it. ‘importance.
Banbaloo’s success also underscores how technology has radically changed the way businesses are created – all you need are two computers, a little English and lots of dedication. You don’t even have to leave the house. “Before, only companies did it [set up businesses on Amazon]but now individuals are doing it,” says Sergi de Pablos, co-founder of Yaba.
Cuscó first heard about selling products on Amazon in mid-2018 during an annual catch-up with a group of friends, one of whom had researched the subject and even taken a course in ‘English. He spoke to Cuscó about what was involved but never started a project himself. When Cuscó returned home that day, he took to YouTube to watch videos. He had plenty of time because the taxi was not driven by himself but by two employees: one car fed four families.
The 42-year-old has no formal training in economics or business. “During my second year of high school, I started selling beer at concerts,” he says. But YouTube was there to help. The business partners purchased two courses from two digital sales experts from the Libertad Virtual and Hermo Benito chains, which cost them around €1,500. They also purchased the Jungle Scout program, which estimates Amazon product sales in different countries. Thanks to this program, they were able to see which products worked well in the United States and were not available in Spain. “We narrowed the list down to 20 options, but opted for the baby crib bumper,” says Cuscó. “Find a product, a goal. This is the most important job,” adds Bartra.
When it came time to find someone to make the foam bumper, they turned to AliBaba, Asia’s largest online retailer. During an internal conversation, they started looking for foam manufacturers. They found one they liked and asked for a sample. Bartra and Cuscó then slept for a week with the bumper. It worked. They created an Instagram account to promote the product, but what was really essential was to buy advertising on Amazon related to the search term: “Bed rail”. At that time, the only barriers offered were made of wood and metal. The Banbaloo foam bumper could find a place. And he did.
“We had a softer product that didn’t hurt you that you could take with you,” says Bartra, who adds that professional photos were also essential.
Banbaloo was on the right track, but there was still a lot to do: it needed to diversify. Today, the company offers around 30 different products, including different types of bumpers, cushions and covers. But as the partners increased their range, they also had to make sure Amazon didn’t run out of stock. When a product did not arrive from China and the rest was sold, its price increased, one euro at a time. But that hasn’t stopped sales from increasing. Trading partners saw that there was still room for growth.
While earning $100,000 a month, Amazon called them to ask if they wanted to hire a coach to help them reach their next goals. They refused.
So what are Bartra and Cuscó planning now? “We’re going to create another one,” Bartra says. Or more than one, according to Cuscó. “I know which keys to press this time. There are plenty of niches out there, enough for 10 more years of business. Although you should know how to do it and know more if you have three years of advantage.
The emergence of companies like Yaba is an indication that this type of business has a future. Regarding the sale of Banbaloo, Bartra explains: “You have to be aware of your limit and for some time we have seen that our resources and knowledge have reached their limit and we need something else. Either you hire [new people] or you stagnate. Everyday life overwhelms you and leaves you no room to think about the good of the company. We didn’t want to strain ourselves financially as happened with the real estate sector.
As for Yaba, it has decided to buy five companies from Amazon and plans to expand even further. “It’s risky to rely solely on Amazon now, but we believe little will change in the years to come, and neither will Amazon’s fees increase, because if sellers stop being profitable, they will leave.” [the platform]explains De Pablos.
Five years ago, any product sold on Amazon had a great benefit, but even now there is still room for new products. “In 2016, Amazon was the gold standard: the question to ask was ‘what product do I have in my life that isn’t on Amazon,'” says De Pablos. “And today you can make millions of dollars with this product just for being the first to sell it and for having three times the reviews and many more sales than the second seller to come.”
English version by Melissa Kitson.