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Selling Your eCommerce Brand With Adrian Johnston of Una Brands

Adrian Johnston

Adrian Johnston is the Co-founder of Una Brands, a company that buys and scales ecommerce brands in Australia and New Zealand. Before founding Una Brands, Adrian was a corporate strategy consultant at The Boston Consulting Group, specializing in consumer goods and private equity.

Adrian holds a Master of Public Administration from Harvard, a Master of Business Administration from the INSEAD business school where he was valedictorian, and a Master in Applied Mathematics from the University of Oxford. Additionally, he is fluent in French and Spanish.

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • [2:50] Adrian Johnston’s inspiration for co-founding Una Brands
  • [8:48] How Adrian’s consulting background prepared him to co-found Una Brands
  • [13:10] Adrian’s strategies for making decisions efficiently and meeting business goals
  • [17:23] Adrian’s key motivators
  • [23:34] What makes an entrepreneur successful?
  • [26:02] Why ecommerce brands should consider selling
  • [28:28] Una Brand’s ideal business acquisitions
  • [29:59] Adrian reveals what brands can expect after selling

In this episode…

The ecommerce acquisition market is higher than it’s ever been, and there’s no greater time than now to sell your ecommerce brand. But, how can you determine whether it’s time to sell? And with so many selling options out there, which one is right for you and your brand?

If you are a successful private label brand with $5 million or more in revenue, it may be time to consider selling. Una Brands simplifies this process by taking over your business operations and acquiring 100% equity. They’ll walk you through the market shares to ensure you’re getting the full value for your brand.

In this episode of the eCommerce Profits Podcast, Joshua Chin sits down with Adrian Johnston, Co-founder of Una Brands, to talk about selling your ecommerce business. Adrian reveals his strategies for effective decision-making to meet business goals, why ecommerce brands should consider selling, and his ideal brand acquisitions.

Resources mentioned in this episode

Sponsor for this episode

This episode is brought to you by Chronos Agency.

If you are a direct-to-consumer ecommerce brand that wants to unlock the optimum customer lifetime value through email marketing, then look no further than Chronos Agency!

Our team of passionate email marketing experts has helped hundreds of brands generate over $70 million in return from email alone, and our clients receive an average of 3500% ROI from our efforts.

Chronos Agency has worked with a variety of brands, including Truly Beauty, Alya Skin, and many more. Our mission is to help real businesses achieve real results. 

If you want to take your revenue to the next level using email marketing, be sure to email our team at sales@chronos.agency or visit chronos.agency to learn more.

Episode Transcript

Intro 0:04

Welcome to the eCommerce Profits Podcast where we feature top founders and experts in the ecommerce Industry and take an in depth look at the struggles and successes in growing ecommerce brands profitably.

Joshua Chin 0:21

Right Hey guys, Josh Chin here, I’m the host of the eCommerce Profits Podcast where we feature top experts and founders in the ecommerce Industry. And we go behind the scenes of the struggles and successes in growing a brand. Now this episode is brought to you by Chronos Agency. If you run a direct consumer ecommerce brand that is ready to scale and to double your customer lifetime value, through retention marketing Chronos is your company. We’ve helped hundreds of brands scale profits with email, SMS and mobile push and more will gain an average of 3500% ROI on our efforts. We’ve worked with brands like the UI truly beauty, lighter skin and many more. And the next step is to email us at sales@chronos.agency or you can go to chronos.agency to learn more. Today’s guest is Adrian Johnston, the co-founder of Una Brands are really, really exciting company. In fact, you guys started just a year ago just over a year ago?

Adrian Johnston 1:20

Celebrated our one year birthday one year anniversary. It feels my birthday.

Joshua Chin 1:25

Yeah, incredible. Now Adrian’s to head of strategy and a co founder, typically based in in Sydney, current UK, bright Una Brands, Adrian spent a number of years as a corporate strategy consultant for BCG, the Boston Consulting Group, specializing in consumer goods and PE and private equity. So perfect fit. And previously he was an equity trader at Goldman for over three years. And you have a stack of credentials from an MPA, a Master’s of Public Administration, an MBA as well as a master’s from Harvard, INSEAD and Oxford respectively. Incredible, incredible track record. And I’m really interested to kind of learn more about how Una Brands came about. You guys grow grew incredibly quickly, and you’re continuing on a really fast trajectory. In just over a year. You guys have close to 150 employees now?

Adrian Johnston 2:28

Is that right? Yeah. exceeded that now. Yeah, we’re

Joshua Chin 2:32

over 150 employees. That is incredible. So welcome to the show. First and foremost. Yeah. Tell me a little bit about the backstory. How did Una Brands come about? And what exactly does Una mean in the first place?

Adrian Johnston 2:50

Yeah, sure. So Una is a Latin word, which means together as one. And so we bring a whole bunch of brand brands together and merge them together. One thing I should say I’m apologize if I cough. I’ve recently recovered from COVID. And I still have a lingering cough, but I’ll try and keep my cough to a minimum to give you the kind of backstory of how Una Brand started. So so Una Brand says actually five co founders, the lead co founder and our CEO is a guy called Kiren Tanna, who’s based in Singapore. And so Kiren is a is a very experienced entrepreneur. He founded two startups previously. One is called Foodpanda, which is the largest food delivery network in Asia. And then he founded Zen Rooms, which is a large budget hotel chain. He was also the CEO of Rocket Internet, Asia for two years. But so he was looking in, in the kind of ecommerce space in around June, last year after you know, he was taking a bit of a break, and came across this business model. And then my I was actually working at Boston, as you mentioned, at Boston Consulting Group in looking at ecommerce, and I started to notice a trend happening predominantly in America and Europe, which is the kind of Amazon FBA roll up or Amazon FBA aggregator model, which pretty much was starting to explode in those geographies. So I don’t know if you’re familiar with a company called THRASS. Seo. But SEO was the fastest ever profitable company to become a unicorn. And they did that in about 18 months. And kind of so thrashy was the original ecommerce aggregator. And off the back of that, and the kind of success that they’ve had. The same thing was then tried in Europe. So in Europe, the EU then had a company called Razor who, who kind of were trying the same thing, and we’re also very successful. And so I was looking at this and saying, Well, no one’s currently doing this in APAC, and You know, and I was wondering, would this work in APAC? And so in January last year, I started speaking to a whole bunch of people in Australia. Probably 10 or 15 people at Amazon, a bunch of people at eBay catch Cogan. And I started to realize that there’s a colossal opportunity for for an ecommerce aggregator in this region. And so I was speaking to some investors. The investors said to me, we really like the idea. But we working with Kiren, why don’t you guys speak together, and maybe you can work together so they put me in Touch with Kiren. And then we decided to pair up. So instead of me doing an Australia one, and guaranteeing a Singapore version, we’re doing a pan APEC ecommerce aggregator. And actually, it’s pretty much true with Kershaw. So Cushaw was also independently looking at this model, and was put in and was connected via various investors to launch a business model. And for people who don’t know what an ecommerce aggregator is. So we buy small ecommerce businesses or ecommerce businesses with revenue greater than about a million US dollars per year, all the way up to a kind of 30 $40 million. And we merge those companies together, which gives us a huge amounts of operational leverage from, you know, freight and logistics, but also on the sort of marketing and optimization that we can get on that side of things.

Joshua Chin 6:30

It’s fascinating to see what what the what people can do when you kind of band up together and having different sets of skills? What? Who, so let me clarify who exactly was it that brought all of you guys together? All five co founders?

Adrian Johnston 6:48

Yeah, so it’s a little bit different with each of us. So, so let me just run through the five co founders. So Srinivasan is our CTO, technology guy who’s based in India. He actually knew Kiren from a long time. He’s worked with Kiren for about 15 years, 15-20 years. And they’ve they’ve kind of always wanted to work on a business together. And so Kiren said to me, Hey, can you work with us as CTO? Tobias was also connected with Kiren through Rocket Internet. Tobias, very experienced, economical ecommerce guy spent six years at Lazada building that team Kiren was also x Rocket Internet. And so they were kind of connected through that means Kushal was trying to kick off the business model in APAC, and was reaching out to investors and the investors, again, put Kushal in touch with Kiren. And then my story’s the same wishes I was looking for investors and the investors that I was speaking to, again, put me in Touch with Kiren. So it’s really an interesting set of conditions that led to us working together, we think we actually have, by far the strongest team in the region, in terms of the aggregator space. And not only in the founding team, but we have a very, very strong core operating team within the business as well.

Joshua Chin 8:14

Now you have a really interesting background, excel in both the academic sphere and then transitioning into really large companies and doing really, really well in all these companies. And now transitioning into becoming a co founder. Has there been any common themes and common threads of what you’ve carried over from each phase of your life? And what has changed from being, I suppose employee to now being co founder?

Adrian Johnston 8:48

Well, that’s a very kind introduction. I should say that I don’t really enjoy academia very much. So I, as you mentioned, I do actually have four degrees. So I have one undergraduate and then master’s degrees, the degrees that I did, I didn’t, I didn’t really do them, because I loved studying necessarily. I did them. So the MBA I did, because I wanted to the network, and also to broaden the my kind of business skill set, the MPA. Similarly, I had a lot of fun doing them. And I had loads of fun as a student, but the actual kind of sitting down with a book in the library is probably not my 100% ideal cup of tea. But in terms of in terms of similarities, and what I’ve taken from the businesses, so might the first, the first three years of my career, as you mentioned, I was working in equity trading at Goldman Sachs in London. I would say that I took very, very little from that job in terms of transferable skills. And actually that’s one thing that I had fully appreciated when I went into that role is that the transferable skills from that are you know, there’s a little bit around like, managing risk and kind of teamwork and those sorts of things. But there’s not very much in terms of, you know, hard skills you can take in terms of like, how do you tell a story? How do you tell a story in PowerPoint? How do you, you know, build out complex financial models. So, after I moved to BCG, I would say that the opposite is true, which is that everything I did at BCG was directly transferable and super relevant to running a business and running a startup. You know, from from building, building out the financial model for the business initially, you know, building out the initial business plan and the pitch to investors, you know, structuring a team and setting up a performance management framework, all of you know, everything that I’ve learned at BCG has been has been useful. I would say that, that running, starting a company from scratch is quite different to consulting, in the sense that it’s much more I find that I everything I do is useful now, or I tried to be useful now. Whereas in consulting, I guess you find yourself doing a lot of things that ultimately don’t end up being used. Whereas if I find myself doing something that is not going to be used, then I just stopped doing it now, which is by respect, nice, but refreshing, I guess you could say,

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