In 2016, Amazon generated $22.9 billion in third-party seller service revenues, with sellers reaching one million sales four times faster than those on eBay. Amazon-focused Seller Labs provides tools, including inventory management and keyword search, to help sellers in the online retail giant improve sales.
Founded by Brandon Checketts, a former Amazon seller himself, in 2013, the startup was conceived to solve his own issues with seller feedback issues for his used book business. After creating an automated messaging solution called Feedback Genius that helps sellers earn higher feedback, Checketts moved forward with a whole suite of tools to help boost those sales further.
Half a decade later, Checketts recently stepped down as CEO and took on the role of ideas man as the company’s Chief Innovation Officer role. Long-time Seller Labs employee and entrepreneur Hank Harris now wears the CEO hat to expedite growth and a possible acquisition.
“My role evolved in two and a half years from being a developer to being the team leader to being the COO to Brandon, passing the CEO reigns to me,” says Harris. “His job is to tinker and come up with new ideas and my job is to take any of those ideas and any ideas that other people might have and execute a strategy that allows those to be profitable software products.”
The Athens-based startup has four primary products — the feedback messaging tool, an advertising budget tool, a keyword search rank tool, and Quantify, a financial component for your third-party Amazon seller store. “Especially if you’re having Amazon handle the fulfillment, the other SBAs, the fulfillment centers, Quantify gives you a way to view all those charges,” says Harris.
In the CEO post since November 2017, Harris had a set of goals to implement to a solid management team since the company had grown from nine people to 50 people, often headed in “twenty different directions.” Talent retention is a big priority for him as they continue to grow, as well as encouraging promotion from within.
“My first goal was to put a management team in place that was top-notch,” says Harris. “Historically, it was a true startup. People did everything and wore lots of hats. We’ve got to make sure those 50 people are all organized and working toward the same goal. My goal for the end of this year is to make sure we’re all pointed due north of where we want to go. And we’ve gotten better.”
Harris has helmed leadership positions at previous technology companies, including global enterprise application development company Gorilla Logic as CFO and partner for 10 years. After setting up and surrounding himself with a “smarter than me” team, Harris wants to position Seller Labs for opportunities down the road.
“My second goal is to make sure the company is prepared for any opportunity that might come its way,” says Harris. “An acquisition, or us being acquired, whatever that might be, I want to build up a profitable, sustainable business and then I will let the other pieces take care of itself.”
Their product and hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed by the online retail giant, and they will be announcing more partnerships in the coming months. “We’ve been developing our relationship with Amazon and we were officially asked to be part of their development council for their marketplace, which is MWS, their Sellers Central side of the equation,” says Harris. “That developer council will be coming out in the next couple of weeks.”
In the meantime, Sellers Labs is not actively looking for funding, as Harris explains they are in a good position to be opportunistic. “If I stumble across a company I might want to acquire, I would say, ‘Hey, let’s go get money to acquire this company.'”
“If I stumble across a great equity firm I want to work with, and it has what I call a go-big strategy of acquiring and accelerating our growth to get further ahead, I would seize on that opportunity. I’m not against it. I think everybody would like that scenario.”