THE THOUGHTFUL ENTREPRENEUR PODCAST
One of the most pressing issues Oz discussed was the difficulty e-commerce sellers face when accessing capital. For many of these entrepreneurs, purchasing inventory represents a substantial outlay, and without adequate funding, sustaining and growing their business can be a struggle.
Viably tackles this challenge head-on by providing banking and funding solutions tailored to e-commerce sellers. Traditional banks often need more physical assets typically required as collateral to serve these businesses.
Viably, however, uses a different lens, focusing on the seller's performance and future sales trends by harnessing data from e-commerce platforms.
Oz emphasized the critical role of cash flow management and forecasting in the e-commerce sector. Viably doesn't just offer capital; it also provides the tools and guidance necessary for sellers to optimize their cash conversion cycle. This holistic approach ensures that businesses can access the funds they need and use them effectively to fuel growth.
Oz was keen to highlight Viably's commitment to transparency and fairness in an industry where predatory lending practices are a concern. The platform operates on a flat fee model, charging a percentage as a flat fee for short-term working capital.
Key Points from the Episode:
- Challenges e-commerce sellers face in accessing capital
- Unique underwriting needs of e-commerce businesses
- Importance of cash flow management and forecasting
- Trends and opportunities in the e-commerce space
- Viably's focus on banking and funding for e-commerce sellers
- Viably's approach to underwriting e-commerce businesses
- Importance of access to capital for e-commerce sellers
- Viably's tailored funding solutions for different types of e-commerce businesses
- Viably's flat fee model for short-term working capital
About Oz Merchant:
Oz Merchant, with over two decades of professional experience, stands as a dynamic leader and coach in sales, customer success, and e-commerce. Currently holding the position of VP of Customer Success and Support at Viably, he focuses on aiding e-commerce business owners through innovative financial solutions.
Experiences across various cultures and industries enrich his global perspective, and he is proficient in three languages. Oz is dedicated to fostering growth, innovation, and customer satisfaction, aligning with Viably's goal to bolster entrepreneurs with financial agility and confidence.
His role involves leading a team to ensure customer retention, satisfaction, and loyalty while driving revenue growth. He employs his sales, management, and customer service expertise to build solid relationships, understand customer objectives, and provide impactful solutions.
Viably is a comprehensive financial solution tailored for ecommerce business owners, aiming to enhance their cash flow and provide essential capital. This innovative platform integrates banking, funding, and cash flow management tools in a user-friendly app. Viably also fosters strategic partnerships and organises events to broaden its market reach.
The platform's narrative and business model are actively promoted through podcasts and webinars, appealing to potential customers, partners, and investors. Viably's sales and customer success approach is encapsulated in playbooks following a dynamic “land and expand” model. This strategy achieved impressive growth, securing over 120 new customers and laying the groundwork for a $50M debt facility within seven months.
Moreover, Viably offers mentorship to ecommerce founders, guiding them in scaling their businesses and preparing for successful market exits. Collaborating closely with Operations and Engineering, Viably focuses on selecting the right technologies to ensure seamless data integration and a product-led journey for its customers, demonstrating its commitment to innovation and customer-centric solutions.
05:08 – “The biggest expense for every e-commerce seller is the fact they need to buy inventory.”
09:03 – “There's a healthy business which is actually making profits, and when we're giving money, we're getting that money back from profits.”
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Links Mentioned in this Episode:
Want to learn more? Check out Viably website at
Check out Viably on LinkedIn at
Check out Viably on Instagram at
Check out Viably on Facebook at
Check out Oz Merchant on LinkedIn at
Check out Oz Merchant on Twitter at
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Josh (00:00:04) - Hey there, thoughtful listener. Would you like consistent and predictable sales activity with no spam and no ads? I'll teach you step by step how to do this, particularly if you're an agency owner, consultant, coach, or B2B service provider. What I teach has worked for me for more than 15 years and has helped me create more than $10 million in revenue. Just head to up my influence.com and watch my free class on how to create endless high ticket sales appointments. You can even chat with me live and I'll see and reply to your messages. Also, don't forget the thoughtful entrepreneur is always looking for guests. Go to up my influence.com and click on podcast. We'd love to have you. With us right now it's Oz merchant. Oz. You are the VP of Sales and Success at Viably. You're on the web at run viably.com Oz. Thank you so much for joining us.
Oz (00:01:12) - You're so much a pleasure to be here. Uh, really appreciate you having me on.
Josh (00:01:16) - Absolutely. Well, okay, so give us the overview of what Viably is.
Oz (00:01:22) - Sure happy to. So Viably is a platform we built out actually over the last year or so and really focusing in on banking and funding for e-commerce sellers. So whether you're selling on Amazon, Walmart, eBay, Shopify, you're basically, you know, you're selling online, you've got products to sell. Part of that challenge and part of that journey is you need to buy inventory. And, you know, traditional banks don't know how to underwrite e-commerce sellers. There's not you know, there's not a property collateralized or to have a mortgage against. There's no equipment. You know, that's their whole model is, you know, give us something that's a tangible asset, the e-commerce world. There's nothing other than the product they're selling. So we coming from a technical background, coming from like the SaaS cloud world, we understood that because we ran the same challenges, uh, at previous companies like, okay, traditional banks don't know how to underwrite that type of business. So for us to when we were launching and building out viably was the focus was, okay, there's a banking offering.
Oz (00:02:27) - We need kind of the basic banking fundamentals, but then you also need to be able to underwrite that e-commerce type business, which is very uniquely different than the brick and mortar. So from there, we also started building out a cash flow management and forecasting tool. So how do you know when you're going to need capital? How do you kind of start planning better and get more strategic about leveraging capital when you need it, rather than just to have capital for the sake of capital? Basically, can you actually make get money so that your dollars that you're working for you so that you're getting a return on that capital?
Josh (00:03:01) - Yeah. So what's going on with banks? Why can't they get it together?
Oz (00:03:07) - You tell me. It's like, you know, they've got all the money, but they've got a very specific audience that that they want to give that money to. So which is fine, because it actually provides opportunities for folks like us to say, okay, let's let us go service that business, uh, because we get it.
Oz (00:03:21) - We know what we built as a technology platform, so we can't underwrite a brick and mortar business because there's not a technology layer to it, but from, uh, any other platforms we can actually take in the data from Amazon, from Shopify, from Walmart, eBay. And that helps this kind of, uh, underwriting or, you know, basically underwriting algorithm that will be built to figure out, you know, what is a good business, a healthy business to basically underwrite. So we're not looking for personal guarantees. It's really about just how well this is performing. Do we see future sales and things trending in the right way. That okay if we were giving them money today, can we make sure we get it back and you know, whatever period of time.
Josh (00:04:03) - Um, this may be kind of a difficult question to give. Kind of like a yes or no to necessarily. But our e-comm businesses generally perceived as higher risk is, is that maybe part of the reason that that banks are, you know, don't really have good solutions?
Oz (00:04:21) - I wouldn't say it's higher risk.
Oz (00:04:23) - It's definitely capital intensive. It's it's just the fact there's not a their models are much more of like they need property, they need lands, they need equipment. Something that I can go liquidate and get my money back. So whether I can go sell your the piece of land off or your house or your building or this, you know, CT scanner, MRI machine, dental equipment, you know, they know how to take that and basically get cash to turn that back into cash. Anything short of that they don't know how to kind of underwrite, you know, the the potential of future business. Yeah.
Josh (00:05:00) - Um, why is access to capital particularly important for an e-com seller, for example?
Oz (00:05:08) - Yeah. I mean, the biggest expense for every e-commerce seller is the fact they need to buy inventory. So whether they're getting it manufactured from overseas, whether they are reselling it, buying it from local distributors and suppliers, or they're doing arbitrage to literally going down to local Walgreens CVS and buying it there and turn around selling it online.
Oz (00:05:27) - They need capital to basically turn that money into more money. So it's a heavy, capital intensive business that you constantly need to kind of feed that machine. As long as you've got capital, then, uh, you know, you're in a good spot to keep, you know, assuming you can run the business efficiently, you're going to have a good, healthy business.
Josh (00:05:47) - Yeah. Um, any particular, uh, clients that you've worked with in the past or success stories that you can think of that might make a a good story for our friend that's listening to our conversation.
Oz (00:05:57) - Yeah. I mean, so we have, uh, sellers and all kind of that's kind of the probably the four main categories we see is like, either you're doing arbitrage, you're buying, and you turn around, you're buying retail, and you turn around selling it on a different medium like Amazon or eBay or somewhere, or you're a reseller, you're buying the products in bulk. You know, you're saying, okay, I've got, uh, you know, 5000, 10,000, $100,000, I can go a place and order and then, you know, carry established your line of products that don't need any branding, don't need any advertising because there's already an audience and appetite for those type of products.
Oz (00:06:33) - Then on the other side, you've got, you know, actually brand products that, you know, maybe you've never heard of, like, okay, I've, I've heard of, you know, this particular type of, uh, dish, let's say, but I've never heard of somebody else that's coming to the marketplace. So to do that I need to go advertise. So I'm bringing that in. It's kind of my own design, my own kind of. I've added a nice little ring at the end of, uh, the handle of a cup, and that's uniquely kind of mind. But for you to even know about it, I need to start advertising that. So I'm getting it produced overseas. I need to bring it in and then I'm going to sell it. The other is consumer packaged goods, meaning that I'm actually getting everything assembled together at a co-packer facility, whether it's a health supplement, whether it's, uh, particular seasoning or, you know, jar of, uh, hot sauce or something.
Oz (00:07:23) - So I'm getting that made and I need capital for that. So when we look at those types of businesses, you know, all of those are uniquely different. And how they're capital needs are, some can actually turn them into very, very quickly. Others are I need capital because it's going to, you know, take a few months for it to get into the country. Then I got to go through and sell through it. And there's others that are always kind of in production, meaning that, you know, if I'm selling hot sauce, I'm probably making hot sauce every month, so, or, you know, building up to a certain season where I think it's going to do well, maybe before summer, I know people are going to do a lot of barbecues. I'm going to make sure I have enough production in place to cover those seasons. So we're like I said, we'll partner with, uh, anybody that's kind of at that point where you're scaling up because there is a right time to take money outside capital.
Oz (00:08:12) - There's time not to. So we also say no to folks, meaning that if the business is, you can throw money at a lot of problems. And money is not always the solution to that problem, and it just will mask the real solution where advertising is one of those, you can keep spending money on advertising and get the results you're looking for. But is it the excess use of money that got you those results, or is it, uh, you know, could you spend less and have more optimized ads and gotten you far better return on that money? Um, so because we're looking at all that data, we can come back and say, yeah, we can give you the money, but that's not going to really solve your problem. You're not running a business healthy enough. And one of the things I always say to folks is like, there's three types of businesses I typically see. There's a healthy business, which is actually making profits. And when we're giving money, we're getting that money back from profits.
Oz (00:09:03) - There's a slow death business, which is there's so much movement going through. There's so much money flow, especially in a e-commerce type business where there's so much money flowing through that it can hide, uh, potential problems. So on a surface, it looks like, okay, things are moving well, but you can have one missed week or missed month and you're on a downward spiral very quickly. And then there's the fastest companies, which are basically so overleveraged already, they're robbing Peter to pay Paul, and they're just trying to keep head above water. And it's it's not going to work out. So, you know, as we look at those, we want to find the healthy business and really help them scale up, give some guidance to the ones that are slow death, that say, okay, if you've made these kind of course corrections here, you could actually get in a far better spot. And the fastest, it's like, you know, it's you're delaying the inevitable. Yeah. You know, there's probably other ways to other things to focus your energy on.
Josh (00:10:05) - Um, looks like you do a fair amount of work with Amazon Ecom folks. Maybe share just a little bit about how you work well with Amazon sellers.
Oz (00:10:16) - Yes, we have a direct integration with Amazon. So you know when you're when you're basically selling on Amazon, we have that data coming right in from your Amazon. So you connect your Amazon account right to your account. And from there we're getting in all the data. So to see kind of how your sales are performing when your upcoming payouts are going to be, you know, kind of the trends of a particular product and stuff. So we have that data to say how how's a business performing. And plus we also will connect to your bank accounts. So we get to see it more holistically. So it's not just silo to one particular channel, but looking at it more holistically because you're going to have other expenses. You've got software expenses, you've got warehouse expenses, you got payroll Vas that may be helping you out. Insurance, taxes, all that stuff that's coming.
Oz (00:11:03) - You know, that's not in that Amazon platform, but it's still part of the the business, part of the operational expenses. So having that full visibility and the fact that we actually shared back with you, because everybody does do funding in this space is using that data. We just decided to make that available back to the customer and say, look, this is kind of essentially here's your cash flow statement. This is how well you're performing. This is kind of what the underwriting team is looking at. We just want to make that visible to you again to see exactly. You can see how well you're performing. And, you know, for some folks, fairly eye opening to say, okay, yeah, I kind of had some information intuitively, I kind of knew how I was doing or had stuff in my spreadsheets. But, you know, spreadsheets are only as good as the last time you updated them. The fact that this is real time tapping into kind of all your key sources, your bank or Amazon or any other platforms you're on now, it's a lot more meaningful.
Josh (00:11:53) - I like that. All right. So talk about how fees interest you. Maybe talk about the math a little bit. One concern I'd say historically I've always had is I think that there's unfortunately quite a bit of predatory lending in the business financing world. You know, you're factoring companies, that sort of thing. Can you maybe share a little bit about how you work with your clients?
Oz (00:12:15) - Yeah. So the way we're doing it is really just it's a flat fee. So we will charge anywhere probably from 4 to 10% as a flat fee because the idea is really working capital. So you're getting it for a short term. So anywhere from 2 to 6, eight months tops. Because really what we're solving for is a cash conversion cycle, basically because it's so capital intensive. There's time that money capital, you know, money leaves the business and you get it back into the business, meaning from the sales. And there is a that kind of window that you need to basically solve for. I mean, that, you know, most business they've got 50 K and say they're going to put into that because that's just kind of the business of running.
Oz (00:12:55) - So every time 50 K goes out, generates a $100,000 worth of sales, your net profits off that are like 10%. So you've got now another 10,000 to grow that business further from just the free cash flow that comes through that. Well, if you want to grow at organically, that's probably keep taking that 10,000. Let that organically keep growing. Or you can say, I can bring in outside capital and say, okay, I'm going to improve my buying power by 30%. And what does that do to my business? How can I how much faster can I grow that? So capital is one piece of the equation meaning like you still got to have the infrastructure in place. You've got to have like the the warehousing, the right vendor and supplier relationships that you can get, the inventory, you can source the stuff. You've got the right teams that can manage it to make sure they're staying on top of the adds the right price so that things are selling. So, you know, once you've got the team and the infrastructure, all that in place, then you know, the capital can help.
Oz (00:13:51) - I mean, capital really shouldn't be the barrier from your growth, but we just can't help on the other stuff. So if you've done all that other stuff really well, okay, let us kind of give you the finance to really scale this up.
Josh (00:14:02) - Excellent. All right. So someone's been listening to our conversation us. And they're like I want to learn more. What are their next steps.
Oz (00:14:11) - It's very simple because like I said we're a technology platform. All you have to do is you go to run violet.com. You click sign up, you connect your Amazon account. In some cases, you may need to connect your bank account, and you get an offer that takes all of probably five minutes. If everything is good, you go through some verification steps and you've got the money in your business checking account. All of that can sometimes happen as quick as within an hour. So all right.
Josh (00:14:36) - And that's it. Run viably.com. And uh, anything else that maybe we didn't talk about you think is kind of important? Well, you know, obviously, let me just ask you this final question, 2024.
Josh (00:14:51) - What are you predicting. Like what you know, in your world? What are some trends that seem to be kind of warming up, like any big things that you're keeping your eye on?
Oz (00:15:00) - So as a whole, one of the benefits of kind of being the seed, I said, and it's the fact that I'm talking to so many different sellers, uh, that I'm kind of getting this knowledge from the collective because everyone's got slightly different perspectives on it. But as a whole, as I see kind of this trend, everyone's a lot more optimistic about 2024. Pretty much everybody took a dip in 2023. Everybody was on a high in 2022. There's a lot of consolidation in the market. There's a lot of acquisitions during that year. So this year there's a lot of kind of if you were investor and stuff, there's a lot of portfolio right sizing that took place. So you know, hardly any exits. So everyone that was thinking about exits or not thinking about exits either in 2024 or start prepping for 2025, there's a lot more optimism there in the marketplace as a whole.
Oz (00:15:50) - There's I think everyone's a lot more bullish on Walmart and Walmart's performance next year for kind of being as a seller to be able to sell on there, and we're seeing that, you know, both from more sellers wanting to be there. Plus Walmart's doing a lot of promotions this year. They seem to because they've got competing like Amazon Prime. They've got Walmart Plus. And they did that like 50% off, I think even before Black Friday, because you're wanting to get the, you know, it's a marketplace because there's supply and demand side. So they're trying to incentivize the demand side to get more people on there saying, hey, let me buy from Walmart. As they're bringing on more and more sellers on the supply side to offer more products. And Walmart, you know, they've got deep enough pockets to take on somebody like Amazon. And they've got the last mile issue kind of covered compared to anybody else. Uh, meaning that they can they've got stores everywhere. They can get product from that store to your house.
Oz (00:16:44) - So that's going to be interesting to see how that plays out in 2020. Yeah.
Josh (00:16:49) - Yeah. Very exciting. AWS merchant again. You're the VP of sales and success. And again the website run viably.com AWS merchant. Thank you so much for joining us.
Oz (00:16:59) - Josh thank you so much. Appreciate you having me on.
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