What started as Kale Abrahamson selling cornhole lights in his 500-square foot apartment in downtown Pittsburgh is now described as the #1 Amazon FBA consulting firm in the U.S. with over 150 contractors and employees.
Now, before you jump to conclusions about how Nine University and other online Amazon FBA courses are a scam and just a waste of your time, ask yourself why you think that.
The answer, of course, is bad players in the game who ruin it for the rest of those who do want to deliver quality training and consulting to clients. Nine University, founded by Abrahamson and his co-founder Taylor Hoitt, trains buyers and sellers how to navigate Amazon’s Fulfilled-By-Amazon (FBA) program.
Not a Scam
“Ha, I think college is a scam. People pay $200,000 for a communications degree and then make $30,000 in their first job out,” Abrahamson exclaimed when asked how he’d respond to naysayers claiming that his kind of business is a scam.
But with the global coronavirus pandemic shutting down the classroom environment and forcing students to cyberspace to continue their education, institutions like Harvard University have been forced to change their game, and fast. There’s no doubt that our education system is broken, which is pretty obvious from the tuition rates universities continue to charge and even last year’s Varsity Blues scandal.
Recently, Harvard University announced that it would no longer be requiring undergraduates to submit ACT or SAT scores next year, citing “insurmountable challenges in scheduling tests.” Who would’ve ever thought that the number one Ivy League school would ever be described as “flexible?”
So, yes, with everyone online, everyone wants the quick attention and to make an instant buck. To Abrahamson’s point, there are “unfortunately a lot of shady characters in the online education space, where people are lured in by the ‘Get Rich Quick’ marketing scheme, and then sold a crappy, outdated course.”
And that’s why Abrahamson and Hoitt started Nine University – to change that perception and overdeliver exponentially once someone is actually in the program, as opposed to leaving them in the hands of one VA and never hearing from the “guru” again.
Forget the technical school, Abrahamson advises, and turn your attention to learning to sell products on Amazon. And why not? It’s literally the number one retailer in our online economy. “Many people have encouraged going to technical school to get an actual helpful skill instead of wasting money on a useless degree. So, it’s easy to call something a scam from the outside, when the alternative is actually putting in good ‘ole hard work, sweat, and, yes, sometimes a tear or two to actually start and grow a worthwhile business.”
Nine University sets itself out as not a “course,” but as an actual 1-on-1 consulting and training program, led by individuals who have generated six and seven figures as Amazon sellers, accompanied with a 24/7 live training through Nine’s proprietary FastTrack system.
Accelerate, Accelerate, Accelerate
As online communities continue to grow, bringing industry-tailored knowledge to users, individuals start to rise up, serving as reputable thought leaders in the space. Think Gary Vaynerchuk, Grant Cardone, and Jason Stone among others.
These “accelerators” or “amplifier” groups, as they are commonly referred to, all offer the same treasure: actionable knowledge. “You can literally go through our 14-day bootcamp, with an already-picked out product, brand name, and a seller-central account. Try doing anything close to that at a regular university in two weeks; you might have gone over the syllabus and read just chapter one.”
If you are already deep into this space, learning to recognize actionable knowledge from a “guru culture” saves you from being restricted to one source for answers to your questions and the risk of learning outdated information.
Finding a program where there are actual humans behind the program makes all the difference, especially when it comes to one-on-one Zoom coaching, 24/7 live-training, and private groups run by hundreds of six-figure earners.
Certainly, there is no magic pill out there, and even Abrahamson recognizes the realistic obstacles that have come his way over the years. “One ‘guru’ making videos one time does not equate to a successful program,” he explained, adding that, “Amazon changes daily. You need multiple experts and a ton of people who actually care about your success, or it’s like going to a university where there’s only one professor. And, oh, whoops, that professor is at the beach 24/7 and seemingly unconcerned about your progress or success.”
“Refusing to compromise on program quality led Nine University to over 6 months where we didn’t turn a profit,” he recalled. “If we had bought Lamborghinis like the other gurus, we’d definitely be out of business or offering a shitty one-man team course like many do. It is not a high margin business to have 150+ people on payroll, but it is what is necessary to provide a world-class level of consulting.”
The latest obstacle, of course, is COVID-19, but not in the way that you might think. Right now, online retailers or “essential businesses” like Amazon appear to be the biggest winners. On average, analysts polled by FactSet are expecting an overall revenue of $80.6 billion for the quarter ending June 30, up from $63.4 billion in the year-ago quarter.
Consumers that might have otherwise shopped at brick-and-mortar stores have adopted home delivery by necessity this year. But, if and when COVID-19 does come to an end, this trend isn’t likely to stop. In a recent survey, 40% of respondents expect to spend more online after the pandemic is over, which means more green for Amazon.
Now more than ever, according to Abrahamson, consumers are beginning to “wise-up,” recognizing that if you can’t sell your product on Amazon, you probably can’t sell it, unless you get the necessary guidance. Nine University documents all of their student’s self-reported results on its Wall of Fame, for those looking to learn from previous case studies.
In recent weeks, we’ve witnessed brands and products that have been in existence for decades, announce name and logo changes. So, how does social justice reform play into e-commerce and online marketing, particularly with how platforms like Amazon should respond to hosting products?
“Thankfully (for most people) branding isn’t necessarily going to be the first thing on your mind when you start selling on Amazon FBA,” Abrahamson explained. “Yes, it’s important, but it can kind of be built in reverse. The real truth is that, at first, Amazon is the brand. People don’t know you, and that’s okay. They trust Amazon anyway, and they think they are buying from Amazon.”
So, do you walk away or close shop? No.
“Through time, once you figure out what sells well and who you have become as a brand by actually making money, you can build an amazing brand around that. This is actually one of the areas where Nine University excels the most.”
Abrahamson referenced the concept of an MVP, or a minimum viable product. “That’s essentially what we do here at Nine U. We allow people to find an MVP easily, actually grow in confidence, make money, before worrying too much about building a world changing brand like Nike or Disney or whatever. All of that can come later. Clearly, brands reinvent themselves all the time, and it’s much easier to do that when you actually have customers.”
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