Over the last 14 months, I’ve watched HMT grow into what I consider a successful startup. The word success is objective depending on how one quantifies success; but one thing that is universal, is that with all success, there is a toll that must be paid for her acceptance. This toll can’t be paid with any fiat currency, but only personal sacrifices. Over the past year, I’ve watched our team come in early, stay late, and work weekends in order to help us get to this point. As we grew, I just assumed that our success was self-evident and would speak volumes over any negativity or false comments.
I remember hearing this quote from Theodore Roosevelt “The Man in the Arena” in my early 20’s and it always resonated with me. To paraphrase, It’s better to do battle in the arena and fail than it is to do nothing and sit and criticize those that are actually in the arena. So I say to my critics…What have you built? What have you created that’s of any value? Even more, do you have the courage of your convictions to build something, put it out there in the marketplace and endure the very criticism that you dish out? I think the answer to that is obvious. It’s easy to sit behind a computer and type hyperbolic statements and criticize what myself or any other creative is attempting to build. It’s easy to feed into the lowest common denominator of thinking and make false statements online than it is to attempt to build something great and fail.
Over the last year, I made a conscious decision to stay in the shadows to not be a distraction to my team that have worked just as hard as I have to build HMT into the company it is today. The internet is an interesting place with unlimited amounts of opportunity, but it’s also a breeding ground for negativity. I’ve always thought it was wise to not indulge or entertain such energy, so I’ve kept my head down in anonymity, allowing me to remain focused on the singular goal of building out HMT into a great internet technology company.
Today all that changes. Today is the day we own our truths. Today is the day we come out from the shadows and we own our successes as well as our failures.
Since my critics post my name in a public forum, as if it’s something I run from, let me make it easier for you. My full name is Adetunji Thomas-Quarcoo. I go by Thomas because I never felt the need to have to explain my past online. It felt too heavy and it was obviously easier to navigate without it. I always knew the day would come when it would come to a head and I would need to put some context behind my story online.
I’m a private person by nature so I don’t engage in social media, but let’s dig a little deeper to provide more context to my level of experience. I began selling online back in 2002 on eBay while I was in community college. I sold my collection of Air Jordan’s on eBay and made almost $10,000. I took that money and in the fall while I was attending Montclair State University, I’d go to New York and buy clothes, hats, coats and sell them on eBay for double what I paid. I remember coming home during winter break bragging to my friend Brandon about how I was clearing $8,000 profit a month on eBay while in college. He literally laughed in my face and told me he was making $40,000 a month selling t-shirts on his own website he built using Yahoo Stores. Needless to say my entire Christmas break, I followed Brandon around like a lost puppy while he showed me exactly how he built his business. Brandon was years ahead of his time and stumbled upon the magic of being one of the first entrepreneurs to the ecommerce party. He turned a $25 a day ad spend into $1,400 a day in sales. Over the next year, I stopped going to class and Brandon and I attempted to build 10 websites each earning $1,000 a day each in order to become millionaires by 22. It seemed easy enough, and for the first few months our plan was going as perfectly. Some stores were more successful than others but the overall plan was actually working! And with my future looking so bright, I carried myself with the arrogance of a 21year old that had only tasted success in ecommerce. Without making a long story longer, our success was short lived due to our vendors in China not shipping out products.
Fast forward a year later I got into the sneaker business, but this time around it was a solo operation and I built www.Jordanairs.com in 2004. check the link below:
This is where I really made my bones learning how to market on Google Adwords and Overture (the company that invented the cpc model). This was essentially the business that taught me the foundation of everything I know today. I eventually got on Nike’s radar, got into trouble and eventually settled with them. After the Nike experience, I got so close to success that I was now determined to make this internet thing work. I flew to China and started looking for more products I could invest in to and turn a healthy profit like the sneakers, but after 6 months of going back and forth to China, I chalked it up to an amazing experience but not a fruitful one. Part of my deal with Nike was to obviously shut down the website (which I eventually did) but I thought it was prudent to take screenshots of my sales and build a duplicate website and teach people to do exactly what I had done with PPC marketing.
This worked so well, that I built and sold 14 websites in 5 days and I’m terrible at sales! I sold my websites on Craigslist and got the idea to start eBizBrokerz.com. eBizbrokerz partnered with www.storeb2b.com to provide dropshipping services for those new to ecommerce. We built the websites and they did the dropshipping. It worked pretty well but this was just the first step down the long road on this journey that finds us here today.
During the eBizbrokerz years, a friend of mine introduced me to a term called arbitrage, buying items on eBay for one price and sell them on Amazon for a higher price. The beauty of this is that you never kept any inventory. I immediately saw the opportunity and spent my summer months testing different products on Amazon. We’d list 20,000 products on Amazon from sellers on eBay with a 30% markup and I was doing $3,000 a day in revenue. For the second time in my short career I knew I found a hidden gem. So over the next few years my developer and I built and perfected a software dubbed “dropshipping.express” to scan eBay to identify products and categories that had huge markups for resale on Amazon.
For the first time since 2003, I finally felt like I was on the frontier of something game changing again and this time I was determined to take the bull by the horns. It took me 10 years to get back to this point but my decade in the wilderness of ecommerce had armed me with enough skills and mental toughness to capitalize on this opportunity. As the software began to find more products than I could sell, I thought why not create another business. Why not sell this product list to other people like myself and teach them exactly how to make life changing income. This is how Simplydropshipping was born.
One of the most successful product categories we found on eBay were flip phones. Yes, old flip phones that were selling on eBay for $10- $20, actually had a resale value on $100 and even $200 on Amazon. With some of these models, there were literally no listings on Amazon so Simplydropshipping, owned that real estate on for that particular phone and we dictated the price on Amazon. We were selling $35 Blackberry’s for $299, $200 Nokia phones for $699, it was game changing! I still have 2 clients actively selling using this strategy so I won’t go any deeper than that. One of which last time we spoke, was doing $3M in revenue using this very strategy. Andre was the first client that I can honestly say I helped create a multimillion dollar business for. Andre’s, success empowered me and informed me that although I was on the path less traveled, I was absolutely on to something and my methodology of practicing ecommerce was correct. Again without divulging too much of Andres personal business, here is one of his old eBay stores. https://www.ebay.com/usr/brotherhood2015
I look back at what I created with Dropshipping.express and Simplydropping and I see a business that was almost on the cusp of something great but for whatever reason couldn’t make it over the hump. Those 5 years of trying to self fund a company and create an online community around dropshipping was vital to taking HMT to where it is today. There’s a lot more I’ve glossed over but I think I’ve driven home the point. I wish I had time to talk about Saidi, who was one of my first clients and now a close friend from eBizbrokerz 12 years ago who’s taken my Google and Craigslist marketing strategies and created his first million dollar business last year in Memphis. I wish I can talk about Mike Mcbrad, also an eBizbrokerz client who drove down from Cleveland to visit me with his son and we had dinner downtown Philly and shared old war stories of selling online back in 2008. I have a million of these stories because I’ve spent the last 2 decades of my life in ecommerce. I’ve met thousands of people and helped hundreds more create some sort of income selling online.
My tale of year of sacrifice, pain, failure, then incremental success isn’t one that is unique only to me. Ask any entrepreneur who’s built something of value and their story will have the same ingredients as mine. Failure is just part of this journey as an entrepreneur if you intend on building a great company.
So again, I say to critics what have you built? Whether friend or foe, before you think your opinion of me matters, go into the world and build something of value and endure the pain of actually attempting to build something. Until then you’re simply background noise amongst the crowd as I do battle in the arena of entrepreneurship.
To my clients, know that you have someone in your corner that has dedicated their life to ecommerce and is a source of knowledge in this field. Understand that there are few individuals in this space, that have earned the stripes that I’ve earned in this domain. It’s my intention to use this expertise to help drive your stores to succeed. You have no greater ally than HMT.