Seller of the month

Janosch, 21 years, Amazon FBA Seller

"To me it's pretty awesome to hold your own product with your own logo in your hand."
Our current seller of the month we would like to introduce to you is Janosch Vongehr, 21 years old and currently living and working in Cyprus. Janosch discovered the potential of online trading early on, especially via the Amazon platform. Two years ago he founded his first business to sell different products through his own brand Heldenwerk. With his products, the quality and optimization within the product division comes first. Despite sales in the six-figure range, Janosch limits himself to only a handful of selected products. The aim is to grow within the product group and expand market shares. Besides, he is a part of "amzventures" and coaches other Amazonsellers and those who want to become one. We recently talked to Janosch to learn more about his company and the most successful strategies in online trading.

Hello Janosch, thank you for taking the time to give us a little insight into your business.

Pleasure, thanks for having me!


When did you start trading online, what motivated you most?

I started selling online in August 2016. The motivation to start came from my ideation of freedom combined with selling „tangible“ consumer products. Online trading enables you to work completely independent of time and place (as long as you have established the right structures). For myself, it became clear early on that these two points had to be met in order to implement my idea of quality of life. Between other existing online models, I fall in love with trading private labels, since you create your own individual products and sell them. Maybe it was more tangible for me than digital products, but maybe it was just an ego thing. To me it's pretty awesome to hold your own product with your own logo in your hand.


How did you start, what were the first steps?

At that time I was just interested in "Google SEO" and came across an article that referred to Amazon SEO. It was mentioned that there are hardly any people who really have the expertise in this field and that this will have a massive impact on the future of online selling. Of course my interest was immediately aroused and a few clicks later I watched a YouTube video of Lukas Mankow, who would later become one of my best friends, business partners and mentor. But at that time I only had his videos about "Amazon FBA" in front of me and all I did was to implement the information he made publicly available.
 Products of "Heldenwerk", Janosch's successful brand.

What were the biggest challenges for you personally, especially at the beginning?

My biggest challenge was definitely to find time & focus for the business. My parents gave me 1.000€ for a party holiday, another 1.000€ I had saved through part-time jobs. When I then revealed to them that I didn't want to party, but wanted to transfer all the money to a Chinese from the Internet and had absolutely no intention of studying, the reaction was very inhibited. However, a good relationship with my parents was always very important to me, which is why we made a deal: I started studying and only had to pass the exams. I spent 14 hours a day in my home office to get my business running and didn’t appear in the university at all. About two weeks before the exams I stopped my work and was learning 14 hours a day to just pass. Fortunately I only had to go through this for two semesters.


Since when did you notice that you can live from your online business?

That’s actually a funny story: At some point the numbers clearly indicated "dropping out of university". That was also agreed with my parents. A little later my mother was celebrating her birthday and one of her "worried" girlfriends at the party doubted my father how he could allow me to drop out of university. When he replied "That I make more money than him", it was clear to me that I had successfully mastered the first step.


Were there setbacks and how did you overcome them?

There was a pretty severe setback right at the beginning: My first and only product was blocked because a competitor claimed I was selling counterfeits. Nevertheless, from one moment to the next, my turnover dropped to zero. I was inexperienced and didn't know how to professionally refute such accusations at the beginning, which is why my product was blocked for about 10 days. During this time I tried to find everything on the Internet that could be relevant in my situation - with success: The correctly prepared evidence let Amazon finally unlock me again.


Can you tell us some hints that have helped you a lot in your business?

What has brought me the most in my business is to always put the customer first. Only if my products are of really good quality whichs is also reflected in my marketing strategy it can be successful in the long run. Especially on Amazon the ratings will break your neck otherwise. Only with a top supplier can I guarantee that every single product comes with excellent quality.

 More products of "Heldenwerk"

How did you approach the sourcing process? How did you find and evaluate manufacturers?

In the beginning it was quite classic: Enter the product at Alibaba and write to everyone who offers it. The sources of error are obvious: There is no basis to evaluate how serious or competent a manufacturer is. Finding the really good suppliers is then the famous search for the needle in the haystack. In the meantime we have professionalized the whole thing, hired several sourcing agents in China and also a German and Chinese speaking sourcing manager with me in Cyprus. In addition, we are currently testing outsourced purchasing via an
office in China that has been active in the industry for decades. Whether this is really better than the "in-house" solution, I can't say yet. 


What difficulties have you experienced in sourcing?

I faced two big problems. On the one hand, it can be very difficult to find the really good suppliers. Without help such as Matchory or excellent agents on site, you have to compare a massive number of suppliers. This means contacting hundreds of suppliers, ordering tens of samples and throwing away 90% of them as soon as you open the package. On the other hand, the challenge is to perform professionally with the suppliers and to have a strong negotiating position. Of course, the good suppliers also know that the big customers don't come via the Alibaba chat. The goal must therefore be to approach the right suppliers directly and in a targeted manner.


For some months now you have been using Matchory for your sourcing. Where does it help you the most?

It helps us especially with the validation of the supplier. Large factories export a lot. With Matchory I can easily check how many containers the supplier sends. I can also see to which brands he delivers and therefore have direct information about the quality of his products. But also the other way around Matchory is a great support: If we discover an excellent product which we would like to use as a basis for our own product, Matchory gives us the opportunity to find out which factory it has produced.

How many products do you source per month? How many of them are actually launched?

We have the tight plan of one product a week. At the end oft he day we bring about 65% oft hem tot he market. In the other cases, unfortunately, you don't always get the quality you need to offer the customer a clear added value over the competition – or at least not at a price where the estimated profit is still worth it.


You now live in Cyprus. What are the advantages and disadvantages of this step?

The advantages that originally aroused my interest refer tot he fiscal system: 12.5% "flat tax" on company profits applies, a huge difference compared to Germany. When I looked at it on the spot, however, there were still a few points that now clearly outweigh it: We have 340 sunny days a year, the sea right on our doorstep and an incredibly strong community of young online entrepreneurs. For me, this is also the biggest plus: You build up an extremely strong network within a very short time and inevitably make big leaps in your personal development.