Carbon6‘s community empowers eCommerce sellers, removing the barriers to selling online. Focused on the global Amazon seller community, this innovative StartWell member company has just come out of stealth mode and is rapidly scaling their team and software solutions.
For this session of the StartWell podcast we sit down with 2 of the company’s cofounders, Naseem Saloojee and Kazi Ahmed and hear their foundation story plus learn what their approach to providing Amazon sellers value is.
In a rush? Here are some highlights from this conversation
- Starting a company to help online sellers with tools and support. (0:27)
- Entrepreneurship, business growth, and overcoming common challenges. (5:33)
- Amazon marketplace tools and strategies. (10:24)
- Amazon ecosystem and seller types. (14:19)
- Amazon selling strategies and tools for entrepreneurs. (18:51)
- Marketing and selling software to Amazon sellers. (24:40)
- Acquiring and partnering with software companies for growth. (29:26)
- Startup Carbon Six's growth in Toronto. (34:32)
Spend time with this conversation - here's the full transcript
Qasim Virjee 0:27
Welcome back to this the 41st episode of the start well podcast this time I'm joined in studio on King Street West in downtown Toronto here at start well, by the illustrious co founders are two of the co founders will hear the larger story of how the company came to be of carbon six, which is a member company here at start. Well, their offices are resident at struggles campus on King Street West. And let's just jump into it. So here I am sat with Nissim psychology, Fujiya psychology, and Kazi Ahmed. Guys, it's a pleasure to have you in studio. Thank you for joining me.
Kazi Ahmed 1:04
Pleasure to be here, right to be here.
Qasim Virjee 1:07
I know that carbon six has been kind of in stealth mode. And I want to hear how it got into stealth mode to start off with what is carbon six? Or I should say, let's start at the beginning. What was carbon six when you guys started, like figuring out what you wanted to do to create this company? And who is you guys anyway? How did you? How did you come together? And what's your interest in the topic? Matter is? Yeah, curious to me. Let's start. Yeah, go for it.
Kazi Ahmed 1:34
So yeah, maybe I'll get started. So in this event, I know each other almost a decade at this point. And, you know, we went to business school together, coming out of business school, you know, we were doing different things, starting different companies. But we always wanted to work on something together at some point. But we were trying to figure out what about a year ago, I was exiting my last business, which was a roll up of mental health clinics. And one of the lead investors there is actually our third co founder who's not here today, because he's, he's based out of the US in Puerto Rico, he was actually an investor in that business. Okay. And as that business was exiting, we were starting to have conversations about what next etcetera, etcetera. And this idea of carbon six was noodling around on his head. And, you know, I'll go into a little bit about what carbon six is, you know, he, there's a lot of people who are trying to sell online, right, like on marketplace, on Amazon, on Walmart on Shopify. And, you know, people sometimes thinks it's pretty easy to sell online, but it's actually pretty difficult. If you, you know, talk to a number of successful sellers, they're using anywhere between eight to 15 different tools to run their business. You know, the same way any of us use, you know, DocuSign, and Docs and, and zoom, etc, etc, to run a business, they imagine a whole suite of tools to help run, run your business. Right. And, you know, Justin had been talking to some some folks in his neighborhood who were successful Amazon sellers. And
Qasim Virjee 3:15
like, literally, in his residential neighborhood, in
Kazi Ahmed 3:17
his residential neighborhood, like literally, in the pool, like, his kids, kids are swimming with their kids. And he's like, chatting with them by the pool. And trying to understand, what is this sort of new world of E commerce? And what makes the people who are in this, like, nice neighborhood, like successful versus, you know, the 10 million people who will try selling online? Well,
Qasim Virjee 3:37
that's interesting. Yeah, you're talking to a guy in a pool? About how he bought the pool? Exactly, basically, exactly. Okay. So these guys are sitting there talking about their frustrations being, you know, probably also removed from where the merchandise handling is, and whatever other logistical concerns that they have.
Kazi Ahmed 3:56
Yeah, so I think, you know, the logistical I mean, it's, it's a it's an actual business, you think you're running an actual business. But, you know, what, as he talked to them, what differentiated sort of the successful sellers versus all the people who want to try a side hustle selling something online, and, you know, maybe make a go off at and don't succeed, is that they, they use a number of tools and have the right support systems to grow their business. But what became clear in those conversations was, there's a lot of different tools out there, that all do certain things really, really well, but nothing that sort of helps unify, you know, give unify sort of the support system for the seller, okay. At the same time, something very interesting was happening in the Amazon space and in the marketplace in general, where there were these aggregators that were buying these one off Amazon brands, so There's an Amazon brand selling umbrellas, there's this other brands selling shoes, there's other, and these aggregators came along that were buying up a lot of these sort of smaller businesses and putting them together. So the question came to Justin's head, like if, if that's happening in the online marketplace for the online marketplace brands, who's doing it for the software's software's and services, because, you know, it makes a lot of sense that you come, you come to a company, such as carbon 16, obviously wasn't named at that point. And there's a suite of tools for you to improve your business versus trying to find a tool everywhere else. And so as you know, that idea started germinating in his head, he and I started talking as I was leaving my last business, and, you know, saw, saw sort of a super interesting space that we wanted to dive into. And that's essentially how carbon sinks got born. Next step, I started talking to my team. And yeah, maybe you can talk about
Naseem Saloojee 6:05
that. Yeah. Because I was I was building another business at the time, a biotech company, and I'm not a biotech leader, right. The idea was, I had a passion for in particularly neuroscience and the applications of psychedelics, and you can go down that rabbit hole, some other Sure. It's another, another podcast altogether, but I'm not a biotech leader, right. So I was there setting up a business hiring and management team, who would ultimately take it over. I was super excited about what the guys were doing. But I said, like, like, I obviously don't have time to help right now. But as soon as I can jump in, I will and invested some money and and literally, as soon as I could, I jumped on board. And we've been building it together ever since.
Qasim Virjee 6:45
So what's missing? What were you doing before this company? So
Naseem Saloojee 6:49
a bunch, I guess we can go through our backgrounds.
Qasim Virjee 6:53
So like, in the days since you were in B school together
Naseem Saloojee 6:56
in the day since B School. So as a consultant McKinsey for a while before and after. And then spent my last number of years building startups. So was head of revenue at a company called Top Hat here and right, yeah, of course, you might know them. So at that company, we grew it over the course of my time now to reach about 80% of the largest 1000 universities in North America kind of started with the year. So we did pretty well there. have set up a couple of other businesses since
Qasim Virjee 7:26
which you know, Dave, David said it. Yeah, I know. They've
Naseem Saloojee 7:31
been around here quite a bit. Yeah,
Qasim Virjee 7:33
with Shopify. Now. I know Dave from McGill. And he plays jazz is jazz. Really good, dude. And so yeah, small world, because he was telling me about top hat. And I was like, Hey, I know, Mike, sort of, kind of. And anyway, I was like, I didn't realize top hat was such a big business. It's a reasonably
Naseem Saloojee 7:51
big business, I guess. Like, we were always very people heavy for our, for our size of company, because we just needed a big kind of distribution engine. Back in the day, so. But the time when I left, we were about 400 ish people. And since then, the company has conducted a couple acquisitions. So it's a little bit bigger than that. Right? Yeah.
Qasim Virjee 8:13
Nice. So software stuff, but always like sticking to this kind of like, how do you grow? How do you solve problems as an organization that can write business
Naseem Saloojee 8:22
side of liking to play in the early stages to kind of set up and scale up type of phases? Versus like, once a business's, you know, being optimized, kind of prefer the early stage stuff, when there's, you know, an idea forming and it's
Qasim Virjee 8:39
exciting. And it's not just about kind of stick handling HR.
Naseem Saloojee 8:43
Exactly. Right. It's nice,
Qasim Virjee 8:44
and then that's your customer base now, or that will be your customer base at carbon six, right? So all these companies trying to like scale and grow and
Naseem Saloojee 8:51
exactly excited. And that's kind of what attracted us all this model, right? When we talked to the entrepreneur, like they have the same problems that we do, right? Like they're, they're people that are out there, trying to make it in the world in one way or another. Whether it's putting food on the table for their families, or achieving financial freedom, quitting the nine to five, or, you know, building something that can really help them make a go of things in a big way. Yep. There's always a common set of problems, right, common set of problems at every stage of the journey. But then there's a common set of problems that startups face when that like no entrepreneur wants to be dealing with inventory management right now, right?
Qasim Virjee 9:28
Like Eric, go drop shipping. And then the Drop Shipping causes own problems where people are like, hey, I can start an instant business and then they're like, but I don't know how to run a business or Yeah, or the drop shipper stopped selling that product. What do I do? Like no,
Kazi Ahmed 9:43
no, yeah. Like no entrepreneur. starts their business with the dream of doing like the financing the tax at the end of the year. Oh, yeah. Or like, you know, like talking with lawyers or like, you know, if your drop shipper stops. How do you do customer returns like, oh, yeah, you know, those Problems everyone faces and all of us have faced before. But yeah, like that completely resonated as we started talking to talking to people in the community.
Qasim Virjee 10:10
And okay, so then you guys got together, you liked the idea, it kind of like product tested it or pre beta at it with, you know, conceptually with some, some sellers from day one. And
Naseem Saloojee 10:21
we weren't actually building a product, right. So that's, that's the difference.
Qasim Virjee 10:25
Okay. This is this is where it gets interesting. This is the twist people. Yeah, so
Naseem Saloojee 10:29
the market, and maybe it's worth kind of giving you a bit of an overview of the market. So the half a trillion dollars of sales that happens through Amazon's marketplace, right. So its largest driver of its revenue, one of the two largest drivers was profitability, it's a massive thing, right? And close to 70% of the money that comes into the Amazon marketplace comes from private sellers. So people selling myriad different products right. Now, the sellers, which we didn't know, use between eight and 15 different tools to help them manage their reserves. And they've been a bunch of brand aggregators who've been buying up sellers put them together into kind of bigger enterprises.
Qasim Virjee 11:09
like Amazon itself, in some ways,
Naseem Saloojee 11:12
in some ways, that's kind of a brand, we're likely to launch their own brands and compete. Whereas like companies like THRASS, do, or perch, or heyday, or seller X, they're going out and buying individual brands, helping them scale and becoming a bigger house of brands. So kind of model, right? We hadn't seen people doing this are many doing this in the software space. And when you look at the market for software that sells to these folks, it's highly fragmented. Right? So you're talking
Qasim Virjee 11:41
specific tools designed for Amazon sellers.
Kazi Ahmed 11:45
Yeah. So imagine a tool. So let's, let's say I'm a seller who sells mugs. Sure. on Amazon. Yeah. All right. There's 1000 other sellers of mugs on Amazon, how do I succeed? I need to figure out what people are searching for when they're looking for mugs. So I do keyword research. There's a tool that helped me do keyword research, I need to realize and figure out are mugs, the best things to sell on Amazon? Or do I have a lot of competition. So I want to do product research. That's a tool for product research. Now I have a product that I want to sell. I need when someone searches mug or coffee mug, I want to be in the first page not in the fifth page. How do I get on the first page, I must have the right sort of keywords and the right listing and the right kind of content on the listing the best kind of pictures, because that's what tells Amazon's algorithm that you know this a good listing, put it at the top. So you need listing quality optimization, you need content creation and a whole bunch of other things to make your listing stand out. Sure. You need to pay Amazon for Pay Per Click saying when someone searches for coffee, black coffee mug, yeah, put me as a sponsored product. And you need tools to help optimize how much do I want to bid for this keyword versus that keyword, right? You need a tool to optimize your spend on Google so that when someone searches for coffee mug, Amazon, it shows your page and people when people so on and on and on and on and on.
Qasim Virjee 13:16
That's expensive. It gets a lot of resources to focus on how to best position your products.
Kazi Ahmed 13:20
And exactly then imagine doing all of that without any tools where you are trying to figure out by going to amazon.com Figuring out what keywords are the right one, figure out how much money you should spend like all of that. That's why there's these tools that exists to help automate that it's
Qasim Virjee 13:35
funny because we're sitting here now I've never sold anything on Amazon. But like I would consider myself a bit of a EECOM OG in that in 98 when eBay was what was renew that year. I don't know. 989 Yeah, that was one of the first people on eBay and I was selling I would go to Steve's music shop in Montreal down the road from from where I lived. You know, when I went to McGill, I'd buy foreign instruments, and Tablas and Calabash things and all this Morocco's and stuff. And I would sell it on eBay, to people in like Texas that didn't have funky instrument stores in their neighborhoods, and I mean, the tidy business very, you know, doing ego 100%. And it's so funny to hear what you're saying. Because in all these years since like 20 years plus, I haven't thought about the fact that Amazon essentially is kind of like a microcosmic. You know, Google slash the web. Yeah. So
Kazi Ahmed 14:34
you want to hear a crazy statistic? Yeah. I think, really, we learned this recently. I think 60 or 65% of product searches in North America actually happen on Amazon. So when people are looking to search something, they go to Amazon first.
Qasim Virjee 14:50
That's very interesting, because with all the work that Google's been doing the float II come up in the last couple of years. Yeah, it's still just fighting for relevance, I guess
Kazi Ahmed 14:59
and what Yeah, so I mean, Google, by far wins in the sort of the discovery phase still like, okay, you know, what is it that you want? You're like trying to understand the category, et cetera, et cetera. When when someone's saying, you know, I want to buy a pen, yeah, nearly half of those searches, people are going to Amazon first and searching for a pen versus Google,
Qasim Virjee 15:19
I would assume that, yeah, your average seller, especially in North America, or in any kind of like Amazon Prime service area in the world, you know, frequent users of Amazon are going to use Amazon for market research, you know, like, just guessing, like, what kind of TVs are there, forget about buying, I'll buy it later, maybe. But just for market research, kind of or consumer research, they're probably going to go to the market. It's like walking down to the store, taking a look,
Naseem Saloojee 15:45
they'll they'll do that too, for sure. And but especially at the bottom of the funnel, where you're made ready to make a purchase decision, sure, then you're going into Amazon, no, more than half the time, which is great business for them, obviously, because that their pay per click is just that much more valuable. Because if I'm searching for that black coffee mug, then chances are I'm gonna go buy a black coffee mug, and maybe something else too. I
Qasim Virjee 16:11
think what will be interesting for me, and also for our audiences to learn a little bit, because you guys know all this stuff very well, you know, the Amazon ecosystem very well. Give us a sense of how the world's manufacturers and you know, customer facing brands at large that do sell online, how they are intent upon, you know, improving their presence on Amazon, or what their relationships generally are. I know, this is like a meta question. But like, you think of a lot of these we started with this this kind of like Etsy Mom and Pop question of like, you know, someone gets a store, and then they have all these issues, and they want to like sell and they're buying their freedom, and they're escaping their job. But on the flip side, your large corporate, you know, CPG company. And you see this massive access to market open up. So what's, what's the range of type of seller? And how applicable are these tools, you see a need for two, that range?
Naseem Saloojee 17:09
Huge range, right. So the matt, the large enterprise is increasingly looking to go online. So when you look at agencies that are working with and supporting them, it's been a massive growth business over the last number of years, and the agencies that are supporting these large corporations are booming, doubling, tripling in size every year, the corpse are using a number of different software sets and tools. And there are companies out there that are helping them go multi channel as well, right. So kind of go across multiple different marketplaces. So that's definitely a piece. When we think about the seller journey. It ranges everywhere from the newbie seller who wants to sell online, typically an entrepreneur or wannabe entrepreneur shirt, who wants to get out there and sell through to somebody who's started making sales, and has kind of a business, somebody who's made a six figures kind of selling business, which means chances are at a 20% margin, it's a it's a side business, for most right, to scaling it up a little bit more to a point where it can become a full time thing to being an aggregator or being a large enterprise that sells large volume, all the way through to those who are coming into the market like the P and G's of the world, the Unilever's who are selling mass product, right? So when we look at our business, we're focused primarily on the entrepreneur. So we don't look at the the large enterprise, I will serve the aggregator of brands, right, but we're we're looking primarily at that entrepreneur, who is trying to figure out how to be successful or has a brand already or has a business already, and wants to scale it. And in that market, there's a few different kind of places, there's a few different sub sectors. One is private label, which is the largest sub sector, these are people who have or have launched their own brands or are seeking to launch their own brands. This could be like, you know, costumes mugs, could be that could be his buck because his brand, the merch by Amazon space is a much smaller new space but one that we you know, have a presence in where this is like people will print on demand. So like there's some kind of cool trend or design or if it's like it's Christmas time every once a Christmas shirt, shirt or like
Qasim Virjee 19:08
so drop shipping idea, right?
Kazi Ahmed 19:10
It's kind of kind of kind of it's like, I'll give you an example when you know, let's go Brandon was a trending. Who let's go let's go, man,
Qasim Virjee 19:19
I'm sorry. I'm out of touch with the memes in the world or like a Canadian or a Democrat you I'm in dad mode. I'm in full dad mode. This is like huge seller. Yeah. Okay. Yeah, look it up.
Kazi Ahmed 19:30
I mean, it's, it was it was a trending line in the US one and a flat. Yeah,
Naseem Saloojee 19:37
in the last year. So like, this was where like, this guy Brandon kind of won this massive race and then the crowd starts cheering if Joe Biden Okay, Joe Biden, so they're, they're yelling this very loudly. And the commentator comes up to the dude, Brandon and says they're cheering
Kazi Ahmed 19:56
your name. They're saying let's go random. Then the crowd is not saying that. Right? Right. So that became a, like big viral viral meme. Okay, and so all these T shirts popped up, saying, Let's go Brandon, etc, etc. What it was, was, you know, people were manufacturing T shirts, people were coming up with cool designs, and then putting it on what's called merch by Amazon, which is like a, basically a print on demand service that they have, I actually don't need to have it here in Canada. But you go to amazon.com, or actually one of these sort of, you know, there's a few other print on demand platforms like that out there and say, I want a Printful Yeah, exactly. I want a let's go Brandon T shirt. And all these designs come up. Yeah, I want this one. So Amazon actually prints, prints it for you, and ships it to you and charges you money and gives a royalty to the entrepreneur who came up with the design. So that's one of the verticals for example that we serve. Okay. And this
Naseem Saloojee 20:59
is an interesting one, it's it's small, right, but it's growing fast. And ultimately, when Amazon sets his mind to any category, it, it finds a way to win. And so we that's one that we see growing quite a bit over the next few years. Another one that's always been there, through the E commerce journey across platforms has been wholesale, right. And so we have, we have a business supporting wholesalers as well, as well as an arbitrage business. So people who kind of find things cheaper somewhere else and kind of resell them, and take advantage of those cost arbitrage opportunity. So we have products that serve all of those different verticals, but really targeted on that entrepreneur, wherever the entrepreneur is in the journey. Okay,
Qasim Virjee 21:38
so you're you're you, let's jump into this idea of kind of like you don't have a software development team, or you didn't start that way. You started looking for these tools to aggregate them to essentially buy them to create holistic offering, right. Tell me as a business model, what was forming on paper before you bought your first you know, Amazon Seller service company, or software company?
Kazi Ahmed 22:07
Yeah, so what was forming on paper was really understanding what what Nazim just described? Sure, like, what is the seller journey? And what are the different verticals in the space? Yeah, and understanding that, you know, when people think about selling on Amazon, like the largest space is this private label, like, you know, that seems mugs or causes iPhone cases, etc. But, and while that is the biggest place that is actually you know, getting more and more competitive to win that you need more capital to start, you know, you probably shouldn't start, sell trying to start a business on Amazon during that a certain amount of money. Because you know, you need to budget for buying inventory, you need to budget for it being shipped from wherever you're getting it from, you need to budget for being in storage, you got to budget for like PPC ads. So there may be other areas, you want to start off like you want to you maybe you want to start adding merch by Amazon, because there's actually zero cost to start, you just have to be, you know, understand what designs are trending. Yeah,
Qasim Virjee 23:11
just market testing with no collateral damage on exactly.
Kazi Ahmed 23:14
Arbitrage requires very little capital, start wholesale, doesn't take much capital. So there's all these ways to get started in your journey. But you know, you could then keep just doing that as a side hustle. Or after you make some money and sort of, you know, sink your teeth into E commerce, then okay, you started with merch, but you're now making some money, maybe you start getting to wholesale arbitrage. Or once you sort of sunk your teeth into you know, you're doing wholesale and arbitrage you know how to do sourcing, you need to do like some finance, then you're ready to make the investment to go into private label. So understanding these segments and how they play with each other was sort of the starting point. And so a lot of the tools we bought in the beginning, were really around sort of the new seller, like the merch by Amazon space, the wholesale space, the arbitrage space and a couple of private label tools as well. But, you know, going back to your question about what was on paper, he was starting to understand what the seller journey is, and what the different verticals are and what their needs are, and finding essentially best in class tools for those and starting to put that together with an initial focus on sort of the early seller, and then start getting into the rest.
Qasim Virjee 24:28
So similarly, I mean, have you defined a kind of a profile of the of the entrepreneurs of company that would start the companies that you're acquiring? For sure, like, are they sellers trying to improve their journey? By
Naseem Saloojee 24:40
and large? Yeah, really? Yeah, that's interesting. So in the vast majority of cases, they're sellers. And so Amazon opened up its API's to developers a few years ago, right to start building on the Amazon marketplace. There wasn't really much capability to do this previously. And so over the past few years, particularly the past five years, you've seen In this massive emergence of software supporting Amazon sellers with different stages of their journeys, but the software's are typically relatively subscale. So you've got Causton entrepreneur, who already has his mug business, and he has his T shirt business. And he's also doing some other kind of some other online business. And he's realized that he has a problem with with dashboards and visualization, because he went around and looked around, he didn't like any of the ways that anybody else was visualizing their data. So he built a new data platform. And he built this new data platform, and he got a few kind of customers on board, he grew the thing to being half a million dollars, a million dollars in revenue. And now he's like, Well, where do I go? So I've got this data platform. I've got my mugs business, like,
Qasim Virjee 25:48
I have to support software development. It did everything I needed, but my customers need five times more stuff. What do I do? Do I kill it? Do I sell it? Who do I sell it to? Yeah, right. Yeah, exactly.
Naseem Saloojee 26:01
Right. And these entrepreneurs are facing these decisions. And there isn't really a market to buy costumes, company software, because in a meaningful way, right? Like, there definitely wasn't when we started, and now people are starting to hear about it. And so we're hearing some of the the wolves circling. But at the beginning, there wasn't really anybody doing that. And Qasim obviously had needs. And we obviously a huge potential for us to be able to grow that tool in a multiple in multiple different ways, right? Because a lot of these entrepreneurs, they're just it's themselves, but some software developers, they're not marketing their businesses. They're not thinking about, these are the 10 different marketing channels I can use. And this is going to be the best one for my business. They're not thinking, Okay, I've got this dashboard solution. I also have a pay per click solution that can be optimized and integrate with my dashboard solution. Oh, yeah, I'm mostly thinking about how to manage my inventory. I'm also thinking about XYZ. And then they're not thinking about the cross sell opportunity between their platform and other platforms.
Qasim Virjee 27:02
I see how like, yeah, coming in as an umbrella. You know, for all of these different things. For the people you're trying to acquire or partner with for the software makes sense. The value prop makes sense for the customer? are, I guess, is the initial approach to market going to be a bundled service package? Because I'm guessing these are all disparate software's like, so stitching them together and reengineering them will take some time to create, like the ERP solution for Amazon sellers. Yeah.
Kazi Ahmed 27:35
Yeah, I think, you know, that's where that is definitely the plan and the path. I mean, we are still offering the software's or individually. We did our first bundle, like last month, as we emerge out of stealth in prosper. So we have we had the PROSPER bundle with four of our tools together,
Qasim Virjee 27:52
what is prosper? So? Yeah,
Naseem Saloojee 27:54
prosper is a large industry trade event. Okay, it's the the event for the Amazon seller in North America. And so for us, it was our coming out party was like coming out of stealth party.
Qasim Virjee 28:07
So this was when you went to Vegas? Vegas. That's right, you guys were excited about that trip. I remember, we never talked afterwards. So that's, that's because
Kazi Ahmed 28:15
whatever happens in Vegas stays days in Vegas. We kind of talk about that here.
Naseem Saloojee 28:20
But yeah, like we came out in full force, we sponsored the opening Pool Party of this event was sponsored a couple of other events there. We grew up the kind of sickest booth of the event so that people would come out and they'd say, Well, where are these carbons expensive, nobody heard of carbon six, by the
Qasim Virjee 28:36
rustle the bushes to be able to find the companies to total customers, but also to be acquisition targets, right? And
Naseem Saloojee 28:44
coming into this event, you know, we'd already talked to a number of the software companies already bought 11 going on 12 different tool, okay. And we've already started networking our way through the influencer community. But on mass, there are still a ton of people in that influencer community, and in the senior seller community who'd never heard of us. And so this was an opportunity for us before coming out in a big way publicly, like, you know, you've seen no press release about us yet, or anything like that, to come out publicly within the community. And so we got this beautiful booth, we came with an army of 15 or 17 of us, and, you know, came out and just had a lot of fun. The idea of it was, you know, market the PROSPER bundle. Sure. And also just start connecting with companies that can be great partners with us, because when we think about companies to potentially acquire, we're not really thinking about them as acquisitions, we're thinking about them as partners, okay, you know, design kind of a, at least started speaking, you know, building out our roadmap in terms of what we want to buy, build or partner. And most of the time, we're saying, Okay, well, we have a need here. And you as the entrepreneur want something else, right, and it may be an exit or partial exit, which is what you know, they inevitably come for. But it's also to be part of something big, something exciting, something that could change the industry and change the community. Because, you know, if, if what you do is ecommerce, and you're a seller, and you're a software builder, like who would turn down the opportunity to be part of building something special together? And so that's the vibe, we're going for it to build tension and build, bring the community together.
Kazi Ahmed 30:21
Yeah, I think 80% or higher of the founders of the tools we've bought, have actually joined carbon 16. Yeah, they're like, excited, excited. And see, when the marketing team came up with sort of our tagline, you know, an entrepreneur, entrepreneur should do what they love, we do the rest, which I think is actually a
Qasim Virjee 30:46
man, that's my tech.
Kazi Ahmed 30:50
Which is actually a perfect tagline for us. Because it works in both directions. It's, but it is what we are trying to do for the seller, the Amazon seller, the marketplace, seller, someone who's in the future, looking to sell on Walmart, wherever, you know, do what you love, we provide you with the tools and services that you need for everything else. But it sits just as true for the companies we acquire we partner with. Because, you know, the biggest reason some of these founders would want to sell their company is because of everything all of us have gone through, like, right, we start a business because we fall in love with the idea of it. But there's taxes to do and talking to HR, this and payroll that and you know, it adds up. What we are partnering with the software founders on is let's get you back to doing what it is that you love, which is thinking about your product, thinking about your customer thinking about like talking to you, like whatever it is that you love doing. We take care of everything else. Like we have our centralized back office, we have our centralized marketing, we ever centralized customer support. Let us take care of all of that. And you actually join us and sort of become part of this big team. That's that's putting together something special in the industry in the industry.
Qasim Virjee 32:12
Super exciting. So what I guess there's a series a that's closed,
Kazi Ahmed 32:17
or yeah, we're not announcing it quite yet. But yes, but it's what it was like, that's
Qasim Virjee 32:21
part of the idea, right is to to raise some capital, keep raising some capital to keep growing the network of tools and services. That's super exciting. You might not be able to talk about, you know, the actual finances that went into the pool for that yet. But are you finding interest that's global, for this play, and to support carbon six,
Naseem Saloojee 32:42
very much. So
Qasim Virjee 32:43
that's exciting. So
Naseem Saloojee 32:44
our investor pool is coming from countries around the world, which is great. The lead VC, that the that invested in us, has a global network. So they're they have offices all around the world. And they've actually backed companies in the E commerce space in other parts of the world, where there are big synergies for us and potential collaborations, as I think about expansion to other markets. So that's really exciting to us. And that's one of the reasons we're excited about going with them. And, you know, for us, we see an opportunity to raise a lot of capital, because it's, it's a, it's not a pure play VC strategy. It's a VC strategy where we can drive significant growth out of our assets. But there's also, you know, cash flowing companies that we're buying. And so there's an opportunity to layer on venture debt and think about, you know, bigger opportunities for financing as well. Absolutely.
Qasim Virjee 33:36
No, I mean, there's so many opportunities to lever this almost platform software play. Because if all goes well, which it sounds like it's already going well, you know, the race of ubiquity is kind of there. That's super exciting. The tell me, I think we'll we'll do a second session, that'll be the follow up to this part that digs into the product digs into the kind of like, what maybe a seller experiences working with your tools paired with someone on your team that can explain the tools. That'd be really fun, we could do an interactive session for the podcast. But I'll leave it with, or this discussion today with a question about being based in Toronto. So if you're sourcing of capital to support carbon six, you know, is global and obviously the Amazon Seller network is global. And I'm sure you're finding software opportunities to acquire a partner with that are all over the world. What does Toronto mean to carbon six and being based in Canada mean?
Naseem Saloojee 34:38
Well, it's home. Right? And it's like, you know, like, we're, I guess the two of us are both the Canadian story in different ways, right? Like I was I was born and raised here, but the child of immigrants who came here for a better opportunity, and
Kazi Ahmed 34:51
I actually have a kind of an interesting story. So I grew up. I was born in Bangladesh I grew up in in Bangkok. I then came for undergrad for, you know, to the US for the first time. That's first time I'd been to North America. After graduating undergrad, I actually got a job in the US and I was probably going to stay in the US. But after about a year there, I actually didn't get my work visa is it was a lottery system there. Oh, my God. And then at that point, my company was kind enough to say, Okay, well, we'll send you to Canada for
Qasim Virjee 35:27
a year, we're the backup plan. Go Canada. Yeah. So
Kazi Ahmed 35:31
then I moved to Toronto for what was supposed to be a year, fell in love with the city, fell in love with a girl there who then in the future became my wife. And, yeah, and then over time, you know, I went back to the US for business school, and, you know, instead of staying in the US decided to come back. So you know, Toronto has become sort of a, you know, is a home for me now. And through that journey, I've sort of seen the growth of Canada and Toronto in terms of attracting people from all over the world, and the community and the tech talent it's been been bringing on, it's been super, super impressive. So, you know, when trying to build a company like this, you know, carbon six is an American company. And our found, like, Justin I mentioned is American, right? It's there. But both of us are here, and we're looking to build a big team here in Toronto. And, you know, what excites us is sort of the vibrancy of the city and where it's going. And
Naseem Saloojee 36:29
Toronto is our core, like, operational hub. So other than Justin, we, we just brought on board a COO who starts on Monday. I'm probably shouldn't announce his name yet, because he, I don't think he's changed his LinkedIn or Well, let him Let him make his
Qasim Virjee 36:45
announcement first, tell his former employer. Yeah, yeah.
Naseem Saloojee 36:48
But it's somebody I'm close with from a past life. And we've been going to building our core kind of some of our core leadership team here, so that the way that the team has grown, is we have people that we have acquired through that are all over the world, right. And we have a couple of dev teams in different countries, sure. But our core brain trust, a lot of our core brain trust is gonna be built in Toronto, we're gonna think about this our head office,
Qasim Virjee 37:14
that's exciting. At start, we'll start with brilliant. We're, you know, yesterday, I think it was yesterday or day before I was in the same studio here with some leadership from tech to write, which is like Canada's largest tech community. And, and we were talking about kind of like the state of the industry and the fact that Tech has been around for 10 years. And within that period, the growth of the software industry here in Canada has just been exponential, and their own community now being 50,000 subscribers, is just indicative of the fact that kind of feels like Right Place Right Time in Toronto right now, anyway, and the next decade is kind of what we were postulating about. And how that exponential reality is not going to stop. I don't think anyone in the sector believes that, that, you know, things are going to slow down. So it's a super exciting time to be building a company, I think like yours here. And the next few years are going to be even more exciting. That's awesome, guys. Well, it was really nice spending some time to dig into carbon six at this exciting juncture in your startup story. It's early on, but you've accomplished so much. How many tools are in the portfolio now?
Naseem Saloojee 38:28
1212 companies acquired next week, it will be 15.
Kazi Ahmed 38:34
Yeah, it's growing. It's growing growing fast.
Qasim Virjee 38:36
Well, congratulations on the growth so far. It's so awesome to see the team grow as well here on campus. And yeah, we're excited. I'm excited to do a follow up to dig into the actualities of kind of what the seller experiences. So we'll line up that second session with some other members of your team. Awesome. Sounds good. And thanks again for joining me in studio. Absolutely. lodgement. All right. Thank you