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February 10, 2021

EPISODE 18: Trends to Watch in 2021

What Sell, Rank, Win, Episode 18: Would an Investment CEO Sell on Amazon

In This Episode

This past year accelerated the digital transformation of many B2C and B2B companies. Tommy chats with Toni Njim, CEO of Yobi Partners, a global venture firm, about emerging trends, new technologies, and industries brought about by the pandemic. He also shares what he might sell on Amazon if he became an FBA seller.




TRANSCRIPT

Tommy Beringer:

What's up you data-hungry Amazon sellers? This is your host, Tommy Beringer of the Sell.Rank.Win. Podcast from MerchantWords. And in this podcast, we give you the answers to your most burning questions, actionable insights that you can take away and implement into your business today. So let's go ahead and dive right into today's episode. What do you say? Let's go.

Tommy Beringer:

All right. Thanks for tuning into the Sell.Rank.Win. Podcast, everybody. In today's episode, I speak to a strategy and investment firm CEO. Now, we do speak a lot about the current state of affairs in regards to business and what new industries are going to explode, maybe some that are going to go away. And then towards the end of the podcast, he gives us some feedback on what he would sell on Amazon if he was an Amazon seller himself. Very, very interesting stuff here, so definitely stick around to the end. So let's go ahead and dive in. Here we go.

Tommy Beringer:

And we are recording. Alrighty. All right. Everybody, thank you for tuning into the Sell.Rank.Win. podcast. I'm your host, Tommy Beringer. And as always, we have a very, very, very special guest on with us today. He is the entrepreneur's entrepreneur. He first founded his own intellectual property management SaaS company, called Ipendo, back in 2005, which then ended up being acquired by CPA Global. From there, he helped grow CPA Global's valuation from 750 million to then being acquired for $7.5 billion. He also has his master's in applied physics and is a patent attorney. He is now the founder and CEO of his own strategy and investment firm called Yobi Partners. And without further ado, it is my pleasure to introduce you to my brother from another mother, Toni Njim. How are you today, Toni? Coming, I think from Sweden today, right?

Toni Njim:

That's true. Yeah. Thank you, Tommy. Good to be on the show.

Tommy Beringer:

A pleasure to have you on. Really happy you joined us today, and took the time out of your day-

Toni Njim:

My pleasure.

Tommy Beringer:

... to join us on here. So what do you say? Let's get started, what do you say?

Toni Njim:

Yeah, let's go.

Tommy Beringer:

All right. All right. So tell us a bit about yourself and your journey from an engineer and a patent attorney, to investment firm CEO.

Toni Njim:

Yeah. Well, life has got its ways. It wasn't really planned at all. But I always knew I wanted to do stuff on my own, and pave my own way in life. So honestly, both education, university studies, and whatever jobs I took, nothing of it was really planned. But one thing leads to the other. So whenever you see opportunities, you jump on them. And the first time it happened was really when I was working as a patent attorney at this law firm in Sweden. And this was back in 2004. Where I saw there's very little digital happening in that very old industry. And I thought I wanted to do something about it. And I left the firm, together with another attorney, and we started a company called Ipendo. And we did that for about six years, and we grew the company to over 100 people almost. And we managed to sell it then to one of our biggest competitors, it was based in Jersey, a company called CPA Global, at the end of 2011.

Toni Njim:

And I ended up moving to Jersey, Channel Islands, in 2012. And thinking I'm going to be there for a few months. And then things changed very quickly, and we got acquired by a private equity firm. And another journey started for almost eight years. So I stayed there, and we sold the business now in 2020, last year. And I left the firm about almost a year ago now, and started my own company, like you said, Yobi Partners. And doing investments in small tech startups, all kinds of industries. And that's really my passion. So that's where I am now.

Tommy Beringer:

That's awesome. And I'll go ahead and give our listeners a little bit of our history as well, and how I met Toni. So I used to be a music producer, songwriter, artist, way back in the day. And I met Toni through one of my partners at our studio in Los Angeles. And he took a liking to us, and then came on eventually as our manager. And we were actually out in Sweden at his IP firm or management company, Ipendo. We were over there. He took us around. I mean, Sweden is as a beautiful place, we were actually in Malmo or Malmo, right? I think that's how you pronounce it.

Toni Njim:

That's true. Malmo, yeah.

Tommy Beringer:

Okay. So love that place. But yeah, we were out there, saw everything basically from the ground up over there into where he is now, and it's just amazing.

Toni Njim:

Yeah, you even made the theme song for my company, remember?

Tommy Beringer:

That's right. We did. We wrote the theme song for your company. That's right.

Toni Njim:

There you go.

Tommy Beringer:

It was called Patented, I think, right?

Toni Njim:

Exactly. Exactly. I'll never forget when I came back home from the office and opened the door and I thought I went into the wrong apartment. It was like a DJ set, and people were playing music loudly. I was like, "Where am I?"

Tommy Beringer:

We had all our DJ equipment set up in his apartment in Malmo. It was craziness. Yeah. It was great. It was a lot of fun. That was a lot of fun, for sure.

Toni Njim:

Indeed.

Tommy Beringer:

Oh man. Yeah. So that was a little bit of background on me and Toni. I mean, sheesh, we've known each other since 2005, 2006, something like that?

Toni Njim:

Yeah. Yeah. I think so. Yeah, exactly. Around the time [crosstalk 00:06:02].

Tommy Beringer:

A little too long for you? A little too long for you [crosstalk 00:06:06]?

Toni Njim:

I'm getting too old, Tommy. I'm getting too old. No, it was good. But that's a typical part of the story of my life. I jumped on board things that... I mean, I knew nothing about the music industry. And I remember that year, it was around Christmas time when you asked me to manage you guys. And I thought to myself, "What am I doing? I know nothing about this, and I don't have really the time. I'm running a startup company here." But I thought it was really interesting. I liked the team. And I ordered seven books from Amazon on music management and artist management and publishing, all kinds of stuff. And then over a couple of weeks, read all the books. And gave me a good background. And then I remember we went out touring, and we went to London, and Stockholm, all kind of stuff. Yeah. It was a good journey.

Tommy Beringer:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. No, absolutely. Definitely was a good journey, for sure. And then as always, something ends and something new begins, right? So now here I am at a total 180, here, working as a product manager, podcast host, and Amazon expert at a SaaS company.

Toni Njim:

There you go.

Tommy Beringer:

And now you're the CEO of a strategy and investment firm, which is awesome. Which I am invested in some of the companies that he has under his firm, by the way, which is awesome.

Toni Njim:

Exactly. Exactly.

Tommy Beringer:

All right. So let's move on here. So something which I asked you before, and this is kind of how this podcast came to fruition, is I was texting you. And I said, "What industries do you see never making a..." Well, given our current state of, from this global pandemic, what's happening, there's a huge paradigm shift happening. And I want to see your take on what industries you see will never make a comeback, which will grow exponentially, and what new markets will open up.

Toni Njim:

Yeah. It's a very big question, to be honest, well, two things, this is really what I'm doing on a daily basis. Looking into the future and trying to figure out where the world is going. Honestly, the pandemic didn't really change things. I think it mainly just accelerated things. None of the things that are happening now wouldn't have happened in the longterm. I think it just maybe brought a bunch of things forward, especially of course the first things that we're starting to see now is digital, where people are ordering everything online. And of course, data for these companies become a massive thing.

Toni Njim:

So the digital transformation, both in B2C and B2B is massively, massively important. Some of, like in the industry I just left, the legal tech industry, a lot of law firms have not been prepared. They're still using on-premise software. Some of them are not even having software. They're still using paper. And now in lockdown, they can't go into the office, they can't actually do their work. So it's been a wake-up call for a lot of larger organizations, that this world is not going to change. There's a generational shift as well happening. Younger attorneys in this case, or any industry, these guys want to work from home, or from the beach, or somewhere else sometimes, and the flexibility needs to be there. And that's why they need to have the right tools and connectivity needed.

Toni Njim:

So digital transformation in itself has been a theme for a few years now. I think this is the decade for it to, to make it happen. But the pandemic definitely has accelerated that. But generally, I mean, there are a number of different... Both technology, I would say, infrastructure or paradigm shifts in technology and technologies that are happening and been happening for many years, we're hearing about it more and more now, but it's actually we've been using it for quite some time. A lot of people talk about AI, of course, and machine learning and deep learning, which, again, Amazon has been using it for a long, long time. Of course, Apple, Facebook, Google, all of these companies are using them in their software, Netflix, in their recommendation engine. So everything that we're using online now from big tech companies is basically using AI and machine learning to give us what we want as quickly and as easily as we want it, even sometimes before we know it ourselves.

Toni Njim:

So that piece is just going to continue accelerating. And it will be combined with a number of other technology areas. You probably heard about computer vision. Obviously, you've invested in a couple of those companies. So computer vision is basically using cameras to get sight and being able to do calculations on images and videos, and so on, understanding what's happening in real life and in the real world. Compared to everything we do digitally now. You go on a website, you go on social media or somewhere else, you're being tracked. Everyone knows exactly where you are, what you're doing.

Tommy Beringer:

Scary.

Toni Njim:

Yeah. That's the life we're living.

Tommy Beringer:

That's today, right? That's what's happening. That's what's happening.

Toni Njim:

Exactly. And that's really what you guys do as well, right? That's the service you're offering. You're collecting a lot of data, getting insights, and providing actionable insights to your clients. But if you compare that to the physical world, we don't really know how many people go to a certain mall, in a certain city, at which time. What are their buying habits, which restaurants they eat at, and what demographic is doing that? Is that men or women? Or what age? What cars do they drive? And all of that stuff.

Toni Njim:

So you're going to see a lot of this computer vision and AI combination entering retail, airports, the public sector. Whether it's malls or football stadiums. Anywhere where there's going to be a lot of people going, that that is obviously a hot area, restaurants, cafeterias. But now with the pandemic, we're starting to see some additional usage areas or application areas where this... Distancing, social distancing is one of those, that we're starting to see a lot of clients asking about. So it's just accelerating all of that, getting understanding of your demographic and client base, and the habits of people in the physical world using computer vision and AI.

Tommy Beringer:

So Google Analytics in the physical world.

Toni Njim:

Absolutely. Absolutely. As you know, one of those companies that we work with in the Deep North in Silicon Valley. There's another company here in Stockholm, called Univrses, that we also work with. These guys do moving cameras for smart cities, so detecting things in the city, like potholes or roadworks, or things like that, traffic signs, snow issues somewhere, or populations of people in a certain place in the city. So all of these things are being done manually today, or not being done at all. And now you can literally automate that using a normal cell phone in a car.

Tommy Beringer:

Yeah. That's awesome. Yeah. So digital, digital, digital, digital.

Toni Njim:

Digital, digital. Absolutely.

Tommy Beringer:

[crosstalk 00:13:40] AI, all that stuff. All that good fun stuff.

Toni Njim:

Yeah. So that's one major area. Another one is of course energy and climate, which there's a lot of effort of... I mean, you can just look at the Tesla share price over the past few months. It's absolutely insane where it is, and there's a reason for that. I'm not sure it's 100% justified, the evaluation of the business, but it just shows you how important this is becoming, the shift from oil to something more sustainable. And we're going to see a lot more. We're seeing, after the pandemic now, the governments are basically forcing the big corporates around the world to reinvest, when they come back now, to reinvest in green energy-

Tommy Beringer:

Yeah, renewable.

Toni Njim:

... and sustainable. Exactly. So that's one other major area. Of course, blockchain and cryptocurrencies. Get back out of its winter in the past couple of years, soaring. Of course, Bitcoin and Ethereum, and some other currencies now.

Tommy Beringer:

Do you own any Bitcoin?

Toni Njim:

Yeah, I do. I've owned Bitcoins and Ethereum for a couple of years now, maybe three years so. Yeah, I've just held them, or huddled as they say. So it's an interesting... I'm actually more interested in down the line technology for the future, the distributed technology compared to... The coins in themselves over time is going to become more and more digital. So it will happen. What coins are going to be the ones, if Bitcoin becomes the gold or not, that's a different story. But that the blockchain technology in itself will solve, or solves, a lot of problems. Right now we are literally at the expansion phase with regards to applications and where this could take us. Exactly where the internet was back in the mid '90s, where Amazon and Google and these companies grew up.

Tommy Beringer:

Wow.

Toni Njim:

So blockchain is another one. Health tech, I think we're going to see a massive change also using digital and AI. A lot of the jobs, generally, what doctors do today, radiologists, and so on, is going to be a massive shift using technology. Built-in, you've seen things like Fitbit and the Apple Watch, and all of that taking the market by storm. So there are a number of areas like tech education online. We're going to see a lot of that. Of course, now a lot of schools and universities were not prepared, so we're seeing a massive shift in that one as well. So I think education, hopefully, that's one of my big thing for the rest of the world, in countries where they don't have a good education system, to make it available for them with simple technologies. So that's one of my favorite areas that I'm hoping to expand in the next few years, fueled by the pandemic now, especially. Agriculture.

Tommy Beringer:

I hope you guys are all taking notes here. Make sure you take these notes down, all right? This will be what you need to start investing in here. This is the future.

Toni Njim:

Yeah. No, absolutely. I mean, there's so many areas. Some of these things are fairly easy. When you look at it, you've got almost 8 billion people on Earth soon, and you got to feed all of these guys. You can't feed them animals all the time. We're literally ruining the planet with that. So we need to find an alternative. So food tech and food tech funds are expanding quite heavily. There's a lot of activity in the marketplace now. Multi-billion companies have already been created. Of course, things like Beyond Meat as an example.

Toni Njim:

Yeah. So agriculture, because of this same problem, has to become local. A lot more local both for climate and availability. I mean, one thing that you notice now, maybe not as much in the US, but for sure here in Europe, it was very clear that in the middle of the pandemic, when you couldn't send food between countries anymore, and countries started, themselves, wanting now keep this to ourselves rather than sending it somewhere else. So it kind of created an awareness between countries, I want to be able to grow tomatoes, and spinach, and kale, and strawberries in my own country, and even in my own city. I actually literally just invested in [crosstalk 00:18:32].

Tommy Beringer:

Urban farming.

Toni Njim:

Exactly. It's urban farming. And this thing they call vertical farming now. Where I literally just invested myself in one of those companies here in Stockholm, that does vertical farming. And we're growing spinach and kale, and these things, literally in the middle of Stockholm, in a parking garage. Yeah.

Tommy Beringer:

You know what? That's going to be, I think, fresher than getting it from the farm. If you're right in the city, you're growing it in the city, you're growing it properly, you're going to bring it right to the store, right there. It's probably a few minutes fresh.

Toni Njim:

We're shooting for actually people being able to order from an app, and within half an hour, have it on your plate. 90% less water, over 60% less energy, 50% more nutrition, and no transportation costs, and no climate impact from that perspective, apart from the positive one.

Tommy Beringer:

Amazing. Amazing.

Toni Njim:

So these are number As. I mean, one that I mentioned also the other day with the bioengineering and the dawn of CRISPR, and introduction of being able to manipulate the genes and DNAs. We're seeing this now with the vaccines for the pandemic, especially the Moderna and the BioNTech vaccines, based on the RNA technology, which is really immunotherapies that has been used for cancers and other things. And now, very quickly, they can actually create and test these vaccines in a matter of months, which is absolutely unbelievable. So we're going to see a lot of bioengineering in the future, and it's, again, an extremely interesting area.

Tommy Beringer:

Now, thank you so much for all of that information, Toni. And you guys, if you are investing in stocks and different things like that, rewind this back and listen to that, because this guy knows his stuff. Trust me. Just look into all those new industries that are going to start growing exponentially, I think as well. And now this is an Amazon seller focused podcast as well, Amazon brands. So I'm going to pivot just a minute over here. And I want to know given all of your expertise and your knowledge, I want to see, say, if you were an Amazon seller yourself, you're an Amazon brand. Given all the circumstances, the current circumstances and where we're going, what products would you sell on Amazon? What type of brand would you create? I'm very interested to understand that from you.

Toni Njim:

Yeah. I've got a couple of areas that, I mean, they're very much related to some of these things we've just talked about. One, that I've just over the past couple of years got even more interested in is children, things for children. And I say things as a general category, whether it's clothing, or toys, or books, or anything that has to do with children. And I talked to a lot of people, and it feels like it's been the same thing for so many years. There's not a lot of innovation happening there. Especially things using technology and children. You can easily make interactive books in a way combining apps. Can I take a picture, or a few pictures, of some of my kid's toys and upload them and create a book with a story for her? So she can actually read about something that happened in her life, or a toy in her life? And have some predefined text that could be involved or stories.

Toni Njim:

Books, educational things for children, more organic stuff that they can get back a little bit closer to nature. Everything now is television, and apps and social media. And I think there's going to be a bit of a, for the sensible parents, I hope, not to just leave your kids sitting in front of all these screens, but actually be more interactive with nature, and more wooden toys. We're starting to see some of these packages coming, but not in real volume yet. And having said that, on one side you've got those getting close to nature and animals, and all of it. But at the same time, you need to prepare them for the future. Learning to interact, not just with a computer or an app, but with a robot. Teaching them how to think logically early on, and how do I program without really coding? But you can start with a three-year-old, or a two-year old even, to help them see, and do, and interact the more in a logical manner with a screen or with a computer. And thinking about the future, they're not teaching them these things in school. The schools are so behind generally, in the schedules.

Toni Njim:

So for me, children is a big... Anything that has to do with children, I think is a massive market. Generally, it's children's-

Tommy Beringer:

Yeah. I love your idea of taking it back to the old school a bit, like wooden toys you mentioned. There's so much digital, digital, digital in your face, everything happening right now. What you're saying is, okay, let's take a step back. Let's go back to the basics, with the wooden toys and make it more interactive with maybe some technology we have currently. And also another thing you mentioned regarding coding, but in a more intuitive way for the children. And my kids, they both did a STEM class, and they programmed their own robot. They built a Lego robot, and then they coded it on the iPad, which is really awesome to see.

Toni Njim:

That's exactly it. I think the combination of educational toys or games for kids that combine digital and physical things in one. So you can order something home, but also use maybe a digital app to do something with that thing, I think is a really interesting thing. Similarly, I see a lot of the companies I'm looking at is actually for pets. All the trends that we're seeing for humans now with organic food, and healthy food, and all of that stuff, those exact trends are happening for pets now. People want to feed their pets organic stuff. They want to feed them healthy stuff. And there's literally, I think I've just saw the first unicorn in that industry recently.

Tommy Beringer:

Really?

Toni Njim:

Yeah, massive companies, and they want to-

Tommy Beringer:

Put me down for an investment maybe there. Let me know.

Toni Njim:

Yeah. There are so many interesting funds, just focusing on these food tech type of businesses. And pets is a massive market in so many different parts of the world, and it's expanding. So I think that will be a big thing to look into as well. Of course the same trend for humans. Healthy stuff, foods, vitamins, all of these... Vitamins has been a big market, of course. But I think foods and anything to do with health is becoming a massive market, and I think it's just going to continue to grow given where we are. That's another thing that the pandemic, I think highlighted the little bit. Having a lot of those diseases on a daily basis, even though if you manage diabetes or high blood pressure and all of that stuff, it still could kill you when a virus like this... Or at least harm you really badly. So I think a lot of people become very aware of their health even more now. And I think we're going to see a big ramp up in the change of habits in that direction.

Tommy Beringer:

Well, there you guys go. There's some insights on some products you guys could possibly create. Listen back to this part of the podcast as well. And maybe you guys want to go into taking it back to the old school, with some wooden toys or something like that. And making it a digital experience in a sense, having kids interacting with creating some type of physical product or toy, and then making it move, coding it to move around the house or something like that. Yeah. Very great insights there, Toni. Thank you so much for that.

Toni Njim:

My pleasure.

Tommy Beringer:

Go ahead. What were you going to say?

Toni Njim:

No, I think I would probably just say the last thing I would probably add is local, right? If you go on Amazon now, in many places, you might be finding some stuff you like, but you're ordering them from China, you're ordering them from Germany, if you're living... And there's one, the impact on climate for shipping. And two, the level of service you're getting, sometimes the people you're talking to, they don't even know what you're talking about, unfortunately. And then the quality of the product. So I think selling things more local, and not having to ship, especially if it comes to pet foods or healthy goods, that I would think definitely now, also post the pandemic, is going to be a massive trend.

Tommy Beringer:

Yeah. I totally agree with anything health food-wise and stuff like that. And then there's some physical products, I think you can still source obviously from outside China, and things like that. I source most of my products from China. None of them really have too much to do with something with health. So in that case, you keep your costs down by outsourcing in China, India, Indonesia. But then, yes, if you're going to sell some type of organic food to your pet or to a human, then yeah, you probably want to get that sourced locally in the US somewhere.

Toni Njim:

Yeah.

Tommy Beringer:

Absolutely. Now, Toni, we're going to wrap this podcast up. And what I like our guests to do is give our listeners some type of life tip, or some type of business tip that they can take away today to implement inside of their businesses, or in their lives. Some type of life hack, growth hack, whatever you have for them. What type of tip do you have for them today?

Toni Njim:

Well, I say two things, I guess that have come with age, I'll have to say. For me, it's the one thing I've always been doing is learning. Just learn something new every day. I know a lot of people have heard that, but actually doing it on a regular basis adds so much value. And there are some fantastic resources out there. There's these apps, like MasterClass is an example, or just reading or listening to books if you're working out, and then all of it. I think just making it a habit will help people. I think a lot of people don't realize how important that is. All of a sudden, you've done that for a year. You learn something every day, even if it's just for 20 minutes, it will completely change your views and perspectives on things.

Toni Njim:

And the other one is of course health because when you're young, you don't really take very good care of yourself. You just think you're immortal. Yeah, exactly. And I think just keep in mind that life is, and whatever you do and venture, is a marathon. To make sure take care of yourself, to get some sleep. But also, when you're selling stuff, make sure that you are... You don't want to just sell in the short-term. You want to build relationships with clients, make sure to provide great service. It's a marathon. You do a good job, they're going to recommend you. That's where the best businesses thrive, with customer support. So look at the things in the long perspective.

Tommy Beringer:

Great stuff, Toni. Thank you so much for that. And again, I want to thank you for taking the time out of your day to come on the Sell.Rank.Win. Podcast with us here at MerchantWords. And I hope to have you on again. And of course, we will continue to talk and do investments, and whatever else comes to be. And we need to have you back on to follow up on everything else.

Toni Njim:

Thank you so much, Tommy.

Tommy Beringer:

Yeah, rewind it back, guys. He had some good ideas for some products there to sell on Amazon. So rewind that back, and listen to this again. But yeah, again, thank you so much, Toni. Much appreciated.

Toni Njim:

Thank you, Tommy. Thanks for having me.

Tommy Beringer:

All right. All right. Bye.

Tommy Beringer:

All right. Thank you guys so much for listening. And if you got any value out of this podcast at all, please let us know at the place that you listened to it, whether it be iTunes, Stitcher, whatever it is. Give us some love. Give us an awesome review, and let us know maybe some things you want us to talk about on the next podcast. Until next time, guys, stay awesome and be awesome.

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