In 2011, Larry Lubarsky was $100,000 in debt and living with his mom in Brooklyn. Now, he’s making millions of dollars a year reselling anything from shampoo to Nerf toys on Amazon.
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Nerf guns saved Larry Lubarsky’s life.
Well, not just Nerf guns. But also lozenges, shampoo and cookies and the thousands of items he sells on Amazon as a third-party seller.
Seven years ago, Larry Lubarsky was a 31-year-old high school dropout who had no money saved and was $100,000 in debt. Today, he’s 38 and running a company that has 10 employees and brought in $18 million last year selling thousands of different products on Amazon.
“I was living with my mom, I was severely in debt, I couldn’t afford my phone, my car. I couldn’t afford to, you know, take a girl out on a date, anything like that,” Lubarsky tells CNBC Make It. “So, it saved my life financially.”
Lubarsky buys products — like electronics, beauty supplies or toys — in bulk and then re-sells them on Amazon for a profit. For example, if Lubarsky sees Nerf gun selling for $20 a piece on Amazon, he will buy hundreds or thousands of the toy for $10 per unit wholesale, then sell them on Amazon and for a profit $5 per toy (after Amazon’s fee’s are taken out), he says. Of course, that’s assuming it’s a desirable product that people will buy.
“Basically, we’re looking for that one percent of products from the thousands that you look at that actually sell well and have a nice profit,” Lubarsky tells CNBC Make It.
At any given time, Lubarsky’s business will have nearly 3,000 total products listed on the Amazon Marketplace and he sells, on average, anywhere from 1,500 to 2,000 orders per day between the US and Europe.
Last year, the business brought in $18 million in revenue, including a net profit of $4 million, and Lubarsky says he’s looking to reach $20 million in revenue in 2018.
In 2011, Lubarsky “hit rock bottom,” he says. “I was dead broke, I kind of felt that my life really wasn’t going anywhere, and I was in a really bad place.”
Born and raised in Brooklyn, Lubarsky dropped out of high school to become a stockbroker at 17 and had spent over a decade selling stocks, but the financial crisis of 2008 and its aftermath took a toll and left him over $100,000 in debt.
Without a dollar to his name, Lubarsky moved in with his mother and started looking for any work he could find at pizzerias and other local businesses, any 9-to-5 job where he could earn “500 bucks a week to just pay my regular bills and start paying off some of the debt,” he says.
In 2012, a friend who owned an optical store in Brooklyn hired Lubarsky to answer the phone for about $500 per week. As it turned out, that same friend had a side-business buying sunglasses and eyeglasses wholesale and then selling them on Amazon as one of the site’s roughly 300,000 third-party sellers in the US.
“I had no idea that selling on Amazon was even a thing,” Lubarsky says of his first brush with the business. “I didn’t even know that even existed.”
But “When I picked up a product and saw that, ‘Hey, I can buy this for $10 and I can sell it on Amazon for $20 and make 10 bucks in the process, and it’s selling five [or] six times a day,’ — that’s when the light bulb went off for me. And, that’s when I realized, you know, that I can scale this business out.”
Lubarsky helped his friend expand his business to Amazon UK and run it in exchange for a “small cut” of the profits. Within a year, Lubarsky’s piece of the business was bringing in “a couple of million dollars annually,” he says.
The windfall from his cut of that Amazon business got Lubarsky back on his feet. He rented his own apartment in Brooklyn and in 2014, used his newly acquired expertise to launch his own Amazon business.
“I knew everything that needed to be done in order to get the business off the ground,” Lubarsky tells CNBC Make It.
The only thing he needed was seed money. So, Lubarsky pitched his idea to a few friends before one (who Lubarsky declines to name for privacy reasons) believed in the idea enough to invest $60,000. Lubarsky spent $10,000 on shipping supplies and the rent for a small, one-bedroom house in Brooklyn where Lubarsky started working out of the garage.
Read more of Larry’s story here:
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How this high school dropout went from $100K in debt to bringing in $18M selling stuff on Amazon | CNBC Make It.