Veteran Product Marketplace Apex Gear

Drive On Podcast
Veteran Product Marketplace Apex Gear
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Drew Everett and Nick Wyatt started Apex Gear Company, which is a marketplace for veteran-owned companies. In this episode, they talk about the marketplace and veteran-owned businesses.

With this week being the week that many of us start our Christmas shopping, why not head over to Apex Gear's website (link below) and check out some great veteran-made products.

If you are a veteran who makes products or owns a veteran-owned business, check out the Apex Gear marketplace. It costs you nothing but about 15-20 minutes of your time to link your existing online store to their website. I did it, and it was a quick and easy process.

Links & Resources

Transcript

Scott DeLuzio:    00:00:00    Thanks for tuning into the Drive On Podcast, where we're focused on giving hope and strength to the entire military community, whether you're a veteran, active duty, guard, reserve, or family member, on his podcast we'll share inspirational stories and resources that are useful to you. I'm your host, Scott DeLuzio. And now let's get on with the show. Hi everybody, welcome back to the Drive On Podcast today. My guests today are Drew Everett and Nick Wyatt. Drew and Nick started Apex Gear Company, which is a marketplace for veteran owned companies. They're here to talk about the marketplace and veteran owned businesses and share their story. So welcome to the show guys. Why don't you tell us a little bit about yourselves and your backgrounds. Nick, let's start with you.  

Nick Wyatt:    00:00:43    Hi how’s it going, Scott. Thanks for having us. My name's Nick Wyatt, Drew and I actually grew up together. So I'm from Winston-Salem, North Carolina. I grew up as a cobbler’s son, Drew and I grew up around the same neighborhood terrorizing the same neighbors. We've known each other for a really long time. And while we're both vets, we didn’t actually serve together. So in 2006, I joined the Marine Corps and I served from 2006 to 2010.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:01:11    Right. And Drew, how about you?  

Drew Everett:    00:01:13    Yeah, I grew up the friend of a cobbler’s son in North Carolina in the same neighborhood and we terrorized the same people. I joined the army in ‘01 and I was stationed in Bamberg, Germany, and I don't even know how we got here but fast forward, many moons, but yeah, we grew up in North Carolina and then after the military service we kind of went different ways, pursued different paths education-wise and lived in different spots. And we circled up a couple of years ago to start something a little bit different than what we were doing today.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:01:55    Cool. Are there any deployments between the two of you; I know you said, Drew, you were in Germany, but anywhere else overseas?  

Drew Everett:    00:02:05    No, I was never deployed.  

Nick Wyatt:  I did two different deployments; the first one was a Marine expeditionary unit, for those that aren't in the Marines, that is where we hop onto a Navy ship and float around in an aircraft carrier, hopping from port to port pretending like we're cool. I get to tell people that we did anti-piracy missions off the coast of Somalia, which sounds a lot cooler to a civilian than it actually is. We weren't actually fighting swashbuckling Buccaneers over in the Red Sea. We were on an aircraft carrier and the average pirate boat is something that can fit maybe two people on it. And they're taking buckets to throw the water out the other side. So it's not really exciting or intriguing but we were just off the coast of Somalia for a little bit.  

Nick Wyatt:    00:03:00    The one cool thing I did get to do on that deployment was, there was a typhoon that hit Bangladesh. And while that wasn't cool, obviously, we were able to go and provide humanitarian relief, we basically just gave out water and stuff. There was some pretty bad devastation since the country's the lowest lying country in the world. And so obviously, very poor, a lot of destruction there. So that was pretty humbling to be able to do. And then on my second deployment, I deployed to the Helmand and Farah provinces of Afghanistan and I was infantry. So we did infantry things, patrols, and Afghanistan is pretty topical right now and like a lot of other Afghanistan vets I've been paying close attention to everything that's been going on, but yeah, I served, in October, 2008 to June of 2009 in both the Helmand and Farah provinces of Afghanistan.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:04:00    And you're right, the topic of Afghanistan is very much in the news. It's very much on everyone's mind these days with how everything took place there, not to get away from the topic that we're talking about here, but for the people who are listening, I would love to hear your thoughts on what's going on over there. If you're willing to share.

Drew Everett:  As someone who's never been there. Let me tell you how I feel about it.  

Nick Wyatt:  00:04:31   I think like a lot of veterans I've been somewhat frustrated watching how things unfortunately transpired with our pull-out. My biggest thing that I tried to say to a lot of the guys that I was in with, I see a lot of things on social media with people that I was in with, people that served in Afghanistan, people that had served in Iraq that felt a similar pain whenever we pulled out of Iraq is that I don't want people to come away with the idea that anything that they did over there was anything but honorable, that it wasn't in vain. You know, we went over there, we served the purpose that we were asked to do, regardless of how it turned out in the last couple of months and as unfortunate as the tragic events that happened last month with the 13 Marines and sailor everybody that served over there served honorably, they should come back with their head held high and regardless of win, lose or draw, at the end of the day, we all did our part.  

Nick Wyatt:    00:05:29    We all helped keep America safe for a little bit longer. I think that every single person should feel pride in that. And no matter what happens over there right now, and I hope it gets better, I genuinely do, but no matter what happens over there right now, I think that every single person that served over there should feel nothing but pride for sure.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:05:48    Yeah. No, definitely. And Drew, you kind of a tongue in cheek chimed in saying that you didn't really have anything really to chime in there with, but you know, there are other people who are out there who are in a similar situation, they maybe never deployed either. And they may feel like they didn't do anything and that they didn't contribute or whatever the case may be, but nothing could be further from the truth because people like yourself went through it. And everybody else, we did what our country asked us to do, and it was part of a bigger picture. And maybe we did or didn't see what that bigger picture was all about, but we were a piece of that big puzzle. And so for people like yourself, I definitely say hats off to you and Nick and everybody else who served especially during this time, because it's nothing but a difficult time to serve during war time. So definitely hats off. And thank you both for your service and your contributions.  

Drew Everett:    00:06:53    I think the Kiwi corporation owes me a big thanks, a corporation where you're welcome, that you're still in business.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:07:05    Yeah. And if you knew before, you probably would have invested in their stock before enlisting in the military. But anyway, let's go back and let's talk about where you guys came up with the idea for this marketplace that we're talking about before the Apex Gear Company. And it seems like it's a great one-stop shop for a place to go and support veteran owned businesses. So let's talk about that, where the idea came from and how you guys got into that. 

Drew Everett:    00:07:40    Yeah, sure. We were, like I mentioned, a couple of years back, I got started in a different business venture and he, being the son of a cobbler, his family business was shoe repair and they had an extension of that, which was foot performance to people that are dealing with different types of foot pain, whether it's chronic stuff, injury related stuff, whatever, things like plantar fasciitis, bunions, you name it, heel pain. And so along the way in that business his dad designed, invented, patented an orthotic type shoe insole to shoe insert that helps people correct the problem that they're having, and get out of foot pain, things like that, and get back to living a healthy life.  

Drew Everett:    00:08:32    And, he designed this thing. He was a big <inaudible> and so he spent 20, 25 years, I think, in study and practice. And they were selling these things. They manufactured them and they had to manufacture in North Carolina, they're selling them in their brick and mortar business that they had. And he now announced his retirement, sorry, a couple of years back, we thought well, we've always wanted to go into business together. You know, we've always bounced ideas and talked about Shark Tank episodes and shit like that. And so we've always just had a knack for marketing and angles and things like that. It seems random and odd, and it's all those things, but it's the product we had, right.  

Drew Everett:    00:09:26    It is what we had, so we felt the opportunity. I mean, it had never been branded or put online or anything like that. And we thought, well maybe we could tell a story about this, right. His dad was in the Navy, “Made in America.” Let's just, let's try it, right. Let's just learn how to build a website. Let's just learn how to do social media marketing, sell stuff online and just see what happens, where it goes. And, that's what we kicked off a couple of years back. This marketplace idea kind of came from solving a challenge we're having in that line of work, which was, we had a complimentary product that we were trying to add to our website and it was another veteran.  

Drew Everett:    00:10:09    He had something that we could bundle together with what we were doing and just kind of worked through the challenges of adding that other stuff. How do the orders get routed, who fulfills it? You know, what about customer service? How does the payment flow, all those kinds of things with the tech stack we had at the time, just kind of really kind of stumped on how to put all that together. And it's just one of those things that you're thinking about for days and days, and you have this kind of light bulb, right? Whether it's asleep at night or in the shower or whatever, and you just had this epiphany, and the idea came to me, it wasn't really about, how to solve that particular problem that we were having, but it was just kind of this concept of, “Hey, what if we had all veteran made products on one website like Amazon and single checkout on all the top brands and there's so many people doing stuff out there.”  

Drew Everett:    00:11:11    And so we thought about it. And the ideas started coming out at Nick really fast about different ways we could do it. And the impact we could have. And the thing that really I think resonated with the both of us was elevating veteran brands. You know, what's the mission? Why do we want to do this? Why do we care? Why don't we just solve the problem on the insole website, we'll get back to work. And that's really what it came down to elevating veteran brands by way of giving shoppers a convenient one-stop shop to discover their favorites and sorry, what's the tagline, shop their favorite veteran brands and discover awesome new ones. Yeah and so, yeah, a rising tide raises all boats scenario, and that's what we're finding the response with the people that we reached out to big or small.  

Drew Everett:    00:12:05    I mean, the enthusiasm is overwhelming. The help, the support, people are opening up their contact lists you know, Hey, we're in, when can we get set up? And also I know this guy and that girl and this company, have you thought about this? And it's been a really fun ride so far; but that was the original, that's kinda how we got the idea. We were just trying to solve a different problem in a different space. And we looked around and this thing hadn't been done before, and we think the US consumer will really like this option right now in the market because it's difficult. I mean people say they want to support veterans and shop for veteran brands, but how do you know who those are and where do you go to find that? So the response has been really, really wild.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:12:57    Yeah. I think one of the things, from my perspective, is just that ease of being able to go out and shop at veteran owned companies and Nick, it seems like this is something that even a grunt can do. So it's not all hope is lost for those veteran entrepreneurs out there who may feel like they're just a dumb grunt and don't know what to do. 

Nick Wyatt:    00:13:22    That was such an assault man. Okay. You don’t have to be such a reductionist, Scott.  

(Laughter from all three parties on the call.)

Nick Wyatt:    00:13:30    So, one thing that Drew is not actually telling you about that was the big reason why we had to move away from trying to solve people's foot problems is we learned early on in our military service that all foot problems as all problems in life can be changed, can be solved with a change of socks. And that was our biggest problem. So we were like, what we did is we started having the communication about having an Amazon for veterans, a one-stop shopping experience with all these cool words. So we changed our socks and we got to work. In reality it's been awesome. Like Drew said, we've reached out to a lot of veteran brands. We have absolutely no reason that they would get back to us.  

Nick Wyatt:    00:14:12    You know, people we have no connection to, they don't know us from anyone else. We just explained our mission. We explained what we wanted to do, that we wanted to elevate veteran brands like Drew was saying; but consumers, I think if given the opportunity will want to shop veteran, the problem is that there's no real easy way to do it because usually when someone goes to shop for something, they're looking for a particular thing, maybe they want a hat like your Drive On hat there, or maybe they want that cool flag on the wall or something like that. They want a piece of art. They want something to hang on the wall, but they don't know. So they either go to some sort of online shopping, or they do a Google search. If they're trying to find something kind of generic, and they're not really sure what it is, maybe they go to their local businesses and stuff.  

Nick Wyatt:   00:14:52    But this way what we're hoping to do is not just to be able to provide an online place for people to be able to discover and shop for specific items, but really to connect someone that's interested in supporting veteran brands that maybe they live in Tacoma, Washington, but maybe there's something that they would really love by this guy down in Tampa, Florida. Or this woman that is starting her own coffee business in Illinois. And so that's what we're trying to do. We're trying to make it really easy, both for the veteran and for the consumer. And so that's been really cool, we've been working hard at doing that. Lots of twists, lots of turns like anything else. And, don't let Drew fool you. He was also a grunt. So don't let him go and sit over there on his high horse, trying to make you think that he was like some computer technician or intel or anything like that.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:15:48    I think that actually just makes the story even better because you've got two grunts putting their heads together and you got one brain between the two of you.   

Nick Wyatt:    00:15:59    And that was bad. Boggles the mind.

Scott DeLuzio:    00:16:00    I'm saying this from a place of love because I was a grunt too. And so I know exactly what some of the other grunts out there are thinking to themselves and they're probably getting a good laugh at our expenses.   

Nick Wyatt:    00:16:14   The thing about being a grunt is sometimes you're just too dumb to know that you can't accomplish something. So it's like, oh, what if we created an online marketplace with one stop shopping experience where all these different veteran brands were in one place, how hard could it be? And so we were like, well, we're too dumb to think that it's not achievable. So let's just go ahead and do it anyway. 

Drew Everett:  And so when should we launch it? I don't know, like in a few weeks or something, I guess.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:16:41    Right. Exactly. And so you go put your heads together and you figure it out and you're just doing it as opposed to somebody else who might be doubting themselves. Like, ah, you know what, I don't think this thing is going to work.  

Nick Wyatt:    00:16:53    So you can just try it. I mean, exactly. Yeah. Well, we've got a running joke between us. It's like, what's the worst that they can say, you're already not doing business with them, or you already don't know how to build a website, or you're already not doing this thing. And because you already don't know how to do it, it's the worst case scenario, right. It’s that you just stay where you currently are. You're not going backwards. Like I cold call some brand to ask them about being on the platform or pitch on the concept. You know, they can't take money from me. Right. They're already not selling on the site.   

Scott DeLuzio:    00:17:33    Yeah, worst case scenario is I say, no, and you've lost the 30 seconds of tech, an email or whatever, or pick up the phone and call them. And it's not that big of a deal. So, let's talk about the process for veterans to get in this marketplace to get listed. I know as a business owner myself, I'd be interested in getting my products in front of as many people as possible and so a marketplace like this, I think is a great way to do that. And I know a lot of veteran owned businesses, they're smaller shops. They maybe don't want an ongoing administrative burden or any kind of hassle like that. So, what options do you have for the businesses that are out there, who are looking to get listed in a marketplace like this?  

Nick Wyatt:  00:18:17    Yeah, so it's pretty easy to start with. We've got a little link at the top of our homepage where they can click and it pulls up an email when you message us. We do our due diligence. We make sure that it is a veteran owned company, that they're selling products and maybe we can't do anything with service companies right now. We have had a few reach out, but unfortunately we just don't have the capacity to create large yellow pages essentially for veteran brands. That would be a great cause, but it's just not in our bandwidth right now. So then, that's where Drew usually takes over and he takes care of all the onboarding. He makes it really, really easy for you. So I'll let Drew kind of address that element of it.  

Drew Everett:    00:18:58    Yeah. So they reach out to us and we verify who they are, a veteran owned business, and get to know them. And we asked for some sort of proof of service, whether it's your ID card or a 214 or a bootcamp photo or whatever it is, but just some proof of life and so far that's been pretty manageable because the majority of people that are on the platform are people we reached out to you directly, or they come directly from referrals. It's like if you had a buddy who fit the bill and wanted to be on there we'd probably still ask them the same questions, but there's trust involved. Right. So, yeah, we find time.  

Drew Everettt:    00:19:45    I mean, the whole process takes once the person wants to move forward, we screen and they've asked all the questions that they want to know about and they feel good with everything. The actual process of moving forward takes about 10 minutes to set up. So it's really fast. And once they're live on the site we review their products, we publish products. If we need to make any changes or any tweaks or anything like that to the listings to make them show up better, we'll do that on our end. We get them set up in our automated payout system. And the flow's really simple. I mean, the shopper puts their different things in their cart. Obviously just like Amazon, not concerned with who owns them or where they're coming from.  

Drew Everettt:    00:20:34    None of that even matters to the front end. They check out the calculated shipping rate and they do all that. And then the merchant’s on the backend. So, we'll see the order come in, we'll take payment for it. The orders go out to the merchants that are associated with that order. And they fulfill it as soon as they hit the bill and they print their label, their payment, they're taking the payment is automatically routed out to them. I mean, it's a beautiful system, so we don't have to hold inventory. The merchant doesn't have to send us a bunch of inventory. Any listing changes that they make on their website are automatically reflected in the marketplace. It's just the best, it's the best possible scenario, in my opinion.  

Nick Wyatt:   00:21:22    Yeah. There's a lot of cool integrations that when you were talking about your essence is about setting up and stuff, a lot of different people build their websites in different ways. Many of the different website builders out there from Shopify to Squarespace, to Square, to Etsy, to WooCommerce, to whatever it is that you've got. We've got ways of helping you to be able to upload your inventory from your existing place. Some are easier than others, but we've got ways to make it less cumbersome. If you're just starting from scratch, it's a little bit more difficult. You've got to basically create at least what's called a CSV file, which is an Excel spreadsheet. So, just be able to give us your information so that we can integrate you into our system, but we've got a nice little integrated system that makes it easy for the vendor and they come onto site and we can get those on there without too much of a headache for the merchants starting their own business on there, or just adding this as a separate sales channel.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:22:25    Yeah. And that's a great peace of mind knowing that it's not going to add this administrative thing where you have to sync your products and make sure that your inventory is updated on your website and then on this marketplace and all that stuff. So, it's all going to just kind of flow together. And, I know what I was kind of alluding to earlier is as a business owner myself, the last thing I want to do is have to remember to go and manually update something on some other marketplace. And that might be something that I do for a period of time, but then eventually as orders are coming in and I start getting busier, I'm probably gonna forget, and I'm not going to end up doing that. And it would just make the whole system fall apart.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:23:06    But by having this automated system set up already, it just makes life that much easier. And I wanted to highlight that point because I know, for me as a business owner, that would be an important thing that I would want to know about. And for the listeners who are out there, who might be business owners looking to get involved with this, I think that they would also appreciate knowing just how easy it is to get everything set up on the administrative side. Really doesn't take that much to do. It's kind of like a one and done type of thing.  

Drew Everett:    00:23:40    Yeah. It really is whether it's automated or manual. It's about 10 minutes. If it's manual right now, it's manual for us. So we get the spreadsheet and we take it from there, so it's even faster, but even with the full automation and then you never have to come back to the seller portal if you don't want to, unless you need to change your payout info or your street address or something like that. 

Scott DeLuzio:    00:24:06    And so how do the businesses get the order notification on their end? Is it just like an email going to them or what are they getting on their end?  

Drew Everett:    00:24:16    Yeah, they'll get an email notification saying, Hey, you sold something on Apex or how it is formatted, they'll also get one for their own. Well, they get that globally. And then if they have another e-commerce platform they're using, depending on the integration that we use, depending on the integration that we use, it'll show up in their order feed as well. So, the most popular e-commerce platforms out there, we can do that with some of the smaller ones, integration brings inventory in, but managing orders, you have to go to the seller portal but that's a small, I mean, I think we're looking at like 1% of 1% of sellers right now, are even dealing with that scenario. So most of the majority of sellers that are on the platform or are getting their orders back in their own native order feed, they manage them, fulfill it right there, because of how the integration works. We know when they click fulfill and that automatically triggers their payout. So yeah, to answer your question, they do get an email notification from the marketplace and then their own native econ will also notify the movement work.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:25:28    And then that's a great thing too, it just kind of fits in there naturally, normal. 

Drew Everett:    00:25:33    It's not different. It's not a different list. It's all just right there. The order number will be like A dash or Apex dash so you know.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:25:44    Yeah and the payouts being that quick payout process, as soon as they hit fulfill, they're getting paid. So I know a lot of small businesses, they might be bootstrapping and they maybe are relying on that cash flow and they don't maybe necessarily want to wait a month to get paid from a marketplace type thing. But getting that payout right away is huge. And I think that that's a great benefit as well to using this kind of marketplace.  

Nick Wyatt:    00:26:12    And they’ll usually get it within a few days just because of the amount of time it takes for the bank to transfer the money, but it gets initiated immediately. So yeah, they're not going to have those long lead times where they don't have the positive cash flow. So they're not worried about having to buy new inventory. Well, they were having to pay for supplies or were having to do whatever it is they need to do to keep the roof over their heads, keep the lights on and we don't want to hinder that in any way whatsoever. We just want to make sure that they can do business as usual and hopefully, help them grow and become more well-known. I mean, that's really the goal.  

Drew Everett:    00:26:46    Yeah. Scott, to piggyback off that. I mean we don't charge any setup fees or upfront account fees. There's no monthly thing that you have to pay for. So we'll take 10 minutes of your life to get it set up, but if you never sell a thing, it'll never cost you a thing. And the cash flow was a really important thing. One thing about, the made to order stuff I want to hit on too. So we have a lot of people that make custom wood flags or whatever it is, things that are made to order, they don't wait to get paid on fulfillment. They get paid when we get paid. We have a small delay. So I think we built in a five day delay, but it's basically configured at the point of purchase instead of the point of fulfillment, five day delay and then an auto payout.  

Drew Everett:    00:27:38    And it benefits in a couple of ways. One, the delay is because maybe the customer bought it by accident, right? And one or two days later, they might not see the charge on a credit card yet. So we wanted to have enough of a lag in there to where they can catch it and cancel it if they need to, before somebody starts making some physical thing for them. Then also five days, we've found, is not a concern to the custom makers because they're usually running two to three week lead times anyway. So after five days, it's unlikely that they even started working on your order and they're getting paid before the work starts. So especially for some of the smaller shops that aren't going to be fronting the cost on the material so if the orders are paid, then they can actually go fund and build the thing that you bought. And just to repeat myself I guess, the customer should have enough time in five business days to realize that they bought a $400 grenade table, a custom made side table or a wood flag or something, and that oh, crap, I need to go address this.   

Scott DeLuzio:    00:28:53    Right. Yeah. And that's good too, for the customers. I think peace of mind, knowing that they have that ability to cancel the order if they realize that they were drinking too much and bought us a $400 table or something. And they're like, what the hell was that?  

Nick Wyatt:    00:29:10    All sales are final.  (Laughter)

Scott DeLuzio:    00:29:16    I mean, that piece of mind is great to know too. And I think the customers who are going out to support the veterans there, they have good intentions in mind anyways, and they may want to go out and they probably want the products anyways, but they want to help support the veterans. And knowing that there's that peace of mind, that just makes it that much better for them. What are some of the challenges that maybe a veteran owned business will face, and how does this marketplace help address those challenges, in terms of getting new customers and things along those lines?  

Nick Wyatt:    00:29:52    Yeah. So for Drew and I, this isn't our first foray into entrepreneurship. We started the insole company, and while it's not the biggest or the most alluring type of business necessarily it's not an apparel, it's not a coffee company that has a lot of veteran brands you start to associate with. Now, some of the biggest things, I mean, the biggest thing I would say, once you've gotten everything in place is letting people know that you exist, right? And so that requires a marketing budget, that requires an idea on how to market. You have to make graphics, you have to make video content, you have to make photo content. You have to know how to target your audience. You have to do all these different things. And maybe you just know how to make something really cool.  

Nick Wyatt:    00:30:37    Maybe not how to make that grenade table that Drew was talking about. Maybe how to make a custom wood flag. Maybe you've got a cool design that you put on a shirt, but you don't know how to find a Umi that would be interested in buying that shirt. And so what, putting yourself on a platform like this, as well as having your own platform, offers us to be able to showcase your product alongside similar products so that you can stand and be recognized, where we're doing our own marketing efforts. That's targeting people that are interested in searching for veteran businesses. The nice thing about it is like, we have a whole array of veteran companies on there. We have 50 veteran brands on there right now. We're going to be growing all the time, every week where we're gaining new veteran brands, the more we grow, the more brands we get on there, the more interesting it will be for a consumer interested in being on and searching for a veteran owned product.  

Nick Wyatt:    00:31:28    They're going to be able to go on there. They're gonna do a search and a bit of find you as opposed to a Google search, or maybe you're lucky enough, in Durham, North Carolina you've got a shop on main street and somebody walks by, or you just so happen to hit somebody's social media feed, but that's very unlikely. It's very difficult. And so back to Drew's rising tide raises all boats analogy. You know, we've got big brands, we have small brands, we have medium brands, we have wood flags. We apparently have coffee with all sorts of things, beef jerky, and outdoor camping equipment, all that kind of stuff. And by having that kind of vast array of products by having a lot of different types of brands, it's going to grow, and it's going to allow them to gain some sort of exposure, especially if they stand unique amongst those.  

Nick Wyatt:   00:32:14    but if nothing else, it's a place that they can be found. It's a place where you Google search, if you don't understand search engine optimization, if you understand how to get your numbers up and all this kind of stuff, I mean, good luck finding yourself on there. It's been a task for us in the past. I mean, this is not coming from a place like, we know best, and this is the place, but it's just a really difficult thing for small businesses, especially not coming from that background. Drew and I have learned the hard way and are continuing to learn or continue to do what we can to better be able to represent the veteran brands and our brand. Obviously we care about our brand. We want it to be reflected positively and we want people to come and shop there. And so that's what I'd say is the biggest thing, especially for new entrepreneurs, but really anyone, it doesn't hurt to be on there, but it can definitely help to be on.   

Drew Everett::    00:33:06    Yeah, absolutely. I mean, firsthand, driving traffic is difficult. You know, digital marketing is its own career path. I mean, if you're a woodworker or a leather worker or you're making beef jerky or whatever, whatever it is you like to do, your head's down 10 hours a day doing that when do you have time to not only do another job, but learn another profession. So, that's really the challenge. And that's the value we bring to the table with the marketplace. You know, as a grunt, I can confidently say that sticky side down on a brown box in the mail. Like I got the value we're bringing, isn't the fulfillment, right? I mean most people can and they're doing it already. I mean, the people that get on the platform it's not their first day in business.  

Drew Everett:    00:33:54    They've been shipping online, for a while. So packing boxes, slapping labels, it's not the value we bring. The value we bring is driving traffic and driving sales. And, so we do a lot of paid advertising. Like Nick said, a lot of cross promotional stuff, collaboration stuff with the big brands and that's something we tell them when we onboard them. You know, there's a lot of reasons why we want combat flip flops or Virtus outdoor group or whoever it is on there. And it's not because we want to sell their stuff on the platform. It's also because we know that the traffic they bring to the site helps us secure our mission, which is elevating veteran brands. And the promise that we give to the smaller ones is that we are going to increase.  

Drew Everett:    00:34:39    You know, you can just trust me a little bit, get in here, let me take probably half an hour of your life to sell you on the idea and then actually get you to do the clicks and to put yourself out there a little bit and do that, then the promise in exchange that we're going to increase your traffic, increase your sales, help you build your brand. And we're doing other things in the background in addition to just having a place for them to sell in addition to driving traffic, but there's logistical and supply chain things that we're working on, where if you're a small business, and you're not sure of your future, maybe it's the quality of the products you're getting or the cost, or the availability. This veteran network has been so amazing where we've got a lot of wholesale relationships as well, distributors, printers, co-packers and things.  

Drew Everett:    00:35:35    So if you're a, and you are facing those challenges barriers to growth we're, we're not fully out there yet on this angle, but you know, the next big angle is making that back-end opportunity available. So whether it's printing shirts or bags and coffee or whatever, we've got the right partners in place that you can trust that can produce it, scale, give you the service that you're looking for us as their customer, and take your business to the next level and overcome those obstacles to growth.  

Nick Wyatt:    00:36:14    Yeah. And the nice thing about that is that the network is also a veteran. I was just going to say, just to piggyback on that, that network that we've got is not just vertical integration of veterans. So that's really cool. So maybe you might not be bought as a consumer. You're buying a shirt from a veteran, but they may have gotten that done from a printing company that was also a veteran. So that's just another way that we can try to grow and pull together the veteran community. And that's been really, really awesome as well.  

Drew Everett:    00:36:45    Yeah. There's a whole backend economy here that we're trying to raise and develop and feed.   

Scott DeLuzio:    00:36:52    Yeah, I mean that, that's a great, great, benefit to offer. I know trying to source products and trying to figure out who's going to come up with the best product, best quality product for the best price and all that kind of stuff, it can be a daunting task for someone to do. And when you have someone who's like, Hey, you know what? We trust these people. They're also vets. They can help you out with whatever the services that you're looking for, or the products that's just icing on the cake to using this type of market marketplace. I really think that's really great. And I think those are real challenges that real businesses are facing. And, by having this available to them, just makes a whole lot of sense.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:37:43    But also this episode is we're recording this a little bit, a few weeks before it's actually going to air, but this episode will be airing, right around the Christmas shopping season. And there's a lot of shopping going on. And so if you're looking to support veteran owned businesses for your Christmas shopping or your holiday shopping season, I mean, check out Apex Gear Company and check out their marketplace with all the great veteran owned companies that are out there and all the veteran made products that they have to offer. It's a great one-stop shop and you can get all of your shopping done in one place.  

Drew Everett:    00:38:23    Yeah, absolutely. I would recommend the grenade, silicone ice trays personally, as stocking stuffers.  

Nick Wyatt:   00:38:32    That's great, but we do have a lot of awesome gift ideas on there. That's one of the cool things. A lot of veterans, business makers, they're entrepreneurs. I mean, and it's not all like Uber masculine while we do have a lot of cool things, like ammo crates and wood flag type stuff. There's candle companies. We have aromatherapy. There's really nice women's clothing, shoes. There's all sorts of stuff across the gambit. There's just really a lot of opportunities. So it does cater towards a lot of military theme things, but at the same time, there's stuff that if you were to look at it and you didn't know it was on a veteran, the north side, you didn't know that you were at Apex, if you saw it somewhere else, you'd have absolutely no clue. We've got Marceau, we've got men's grooming, women's grooming, beard care, all this kind of stuff. And the product catalog is going to grow. And, yeah, so there's a lot of really, really cool gift ideas in there for people. I know that ever since we started bringing a lot of these brands on board, Drew and I were click, click, click, I guess these are going to fill my house and my own personal credit card.  

Nick Wyatt:    00:39:41    That's the rub here is like, you start exposing yourself to like all these things you never saw, ever heard of. And I mean, there's companies making nail polish and makeup, and I mean, we've got sauces and rubs and the diversity of the categories, it's just wild, but yeah, whether it's stocking stuffers or really nice bigger ticket items, I think people are really gonna find some special things on Apex that you're not going to see in other marketplaces; you're going to feel good about your purchase. Definitely. It will give you an opportunity to find something that's very, very unique and special, things that are not things you're not going to find in Target or whatever. I mean really cool stuff. So yeah, for gift giving season, especially Christmas and stuff like that, definitely encourage you to go browse the catalog, check out the website. And, we don't think you'll be disappointed.   

Scott DeLuzio:    00:40:42    Yeah. And for all the guys who are listening, and I know there's some guys out there who are listening, who don't have a clue what to get their lady for Christmas. And I know I'm probably one of them who's going to be checking out the veterans marketplace here. Uh there's tons of stuff like you guys were just talking about all the candles and soaps and everything else that you can't go wrong with some of these things. So go out there, grab some of this great veteran made stuff. And like you said, feel good about supporting a veteran owned company and also getting the products that are high quality products and stuff that people actually enjoy. So it's been a pleasure speaking with both of you today, Drew and Nick, it really has been, I really enjoyed talking about this marketplace and I could talk business all day, but where can people go to get in touch with you, find out more about the company and how to get involved with the marketplace.  

Nick Wyatt:    00:41:49    Sure. I'd go to Apex Gear Company.com. That is the veteran marketplace. So that's how you can find us. There's contact us stuff which will reach directly out to us. And I know, one of the big things about your podcast is reaching out to people that are going to be getting out soon that are looking for that mission and stuff. So if you're thinking about starting your own business, if you've got a cool idea for a product and stuff, reach out to Drew and I, will see if we can do anything to help you along the way. You know, as a young entrepreneur, as a veteran entrepreneur, there's options for you, you can get your business up and going without having to invest like tens of thousand dollars in a storefront. We can help you give you some insight, and when you're ready to come onto the marketplace, you've got a place where you can showcase your products that won't cost you anything, unless you sell it. So we can grow this veteran community of entrepreneurs together.  

Nick Wyatt:    00:42:42    Yeah. Get started selling online without having to know how to get started selling online. Yeah. So you can also DM us on any of the social media platforms. They're linked on our website, we're at Apex Gear Company on Instagram and Facebook, and on Twitter now, you know?  

Nick Wyatt:    00:43:02    Yeah, I just need these for us, but yeah. Just message us there, contact us through the website, whatever you want to do. And you've got an idea you want to discuss and you need help getting started. We're here for you. We're always available.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:43:16    Sounds great. And I will have links to all of this in the show notes. So anyone who might've missed it, you're driving in the car, don't get into an accident trying to write this stuff down. It'll all be in the show notes for you later, and you can click through, get in touch with Drew and Nick and get your business up and running on their marketplace. It sounds like a great way to do it. And, really wishing you both the most success you could possibly have with this, I think by you being successful, it's going to make other veterans successful. And that's the name of the game here. So let's definitely help you guys out and get people shopping on the marketplace. 

Drew Everett:  Thanks again, Scott. 

Nick Wyatt:    00:43:55    Scott, thank you.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:43:56    Thanks for listening to the Drive On Podcast. If you want to check out more episodes or learn more about the show, you can visit our website DriveOnPodcast.com. We're also on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube at Drive On Podcast. 

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