Welcome to the we Love entrepreneurship podcast today, I have a very special guest for you guys have Carlos Alvarez, Carlos. Why don't you actually just give my community a little bit about who you are and what you're doing in business now. And then I got a ton of curiosity questions I want to ask you, first of all, huge, thank you for having me on the show. My name is Carlos Alvarez, I may, I guess what Lincoln would describe as a serial entrepreneur and I just stumbled into it by accident as a kid just doing the typical selling blow pops and receive peanut butter cups and stuff at school.
And then that just continued graduating into other things. Eventually, Ebay And approximately 15 years ago went in full time selling on amazon.com. And since then it's grown into over 50 businesses, 242 virtual assistance, 81 domestic employees and just a lot of just a lot of good times man, a lot of good times to be an entrepreneur. Amazing. Amazing. Cause you just set a lot right there. So I'm gonna just slow you down a little bit. We're gonna dissect this. Okay, so my first thing you know, let's go back to a second of how you got into this, let's go back to the blow pops, heard the blow pops.
How did you get started selling blow pops? Was this something that was their entrepreneurs in your family? What did you pick up on this skill to be an entrepreneur? It's important. I guess we all know like an elementary school. We don't know what an entrepreneur is for me. I grew up in a, in a crazy household you could say. And I just wanted some money to buy some things and I saw somebody else selling blow pops. It was an older kid from another school and I remember thinking like almost territorial, that's my school.
Like how could he sell blow pops in my school? I could sell blow pops in my school. So I got those blow pops, um, from a local store to be honest. I don't remember paying for those blow pops call affairs. Did you, did you lift those blow pops? I can't imagine that. I would have had enough for a whole box of blow pops at that age. Right? I know. I had a whole box of like those tootsie roll type, like tootsie pops or, and I walked out with a box and I sold him since then.
I remember with the money was like a quarter of peace, 25 cents apiece. And then I, with that money, I just kept flipping blow pops and receive peanut butter cups. Wait wait, Carlos, you had 100% profit. You had no cost. Yeah, wow. In elementary school and this is what great This was. This had to be in 3rd or 4th grade. Okay. I just, I just gotta, I gotta disclaim this. Okay. Not telling anybody to take Carlos approach to get started, entrepreneur. You should pay for your stuff that you're gonna die.
I may, I may have paid for it. I just don't recall ever walking up to a register with a box of tootsie pops and, and also an elementary school kids don't really come in with money. So the majority of the people that bought from me were teachers. Wait, your your teachers were supporting your business, wow. Yeah. I really think they saw that I came from like a rough background and they were just like, let me support this. Got it, got it, got it, got it, got it, you got started there in the blow pops and you, you totally swiped and deploy someone else's what they were doing.
You totally just strategy. Absolutely. Got it. Got it, Got it, got it, got it. So then from the blow pops, where'd you go? Next? Carlos? I want to receive peanut butter cups and we do the candy thing through elementary school. I wind up dropping out of 1/4 grade, which I guess it's not a conscious decision you make at that age. I just know that one day I walked up to class and said, I don't want to be here and I just, I idiotically, I just sat my backpack down in front of my classroom, left it there and walked and was like, you know what?
My teachers will just think I called in. My teacher will think that I'm sick not realizing. They probably thought something a lot worse because my backpacks there. But where's the kid? And that obviously led to getting hold of my parents and wondering where I was. And I just walked off and sat by a lake and tried to figure out how to fish And and that that that pattern continued all the way through 6th grade, which back then was the last grade of elementary school and they continued passing me.
It was like when I was a kid, I'm 44 now I think 1976 and when I was a kid, they just passed you back then. So they passed me through those grades. I eventually wind up getting my G. E. D. And I start, I kept hustling like I kept finding little odds and ends to sell. I kept wanting to have side jobs and that eventually leads to me getting to a spot in my life or like my peers, they all have those jobs that are, that come with four oh one K's and paid leave.
And here I was dairy clerk in Publix delivering subs and and working hard. Wait. So, so this, this when, when your peers were in, you know, 41 K plans, you know, in these professional jobs, you were, you were working for someone then or was that something that you were doing, hustling on the side? I was hustling on the side, but then I was also employed by public sub sub route, I was employed, but I was selling on the side. I hadn't figured out that I think I defaulted if I had to go back and thought, well I need business degrees, I need all, I need a lot more than what I'm equipped with.
Two to go at my own. I, or I just question myself to like, I didn't have that in me and my side hustles and then eventually selling online, You know, 15 plus years ago that, that was not seen as a career move. Like that was seen as like a juvenile like hobby that somebody would do not, not a career, definitely not what it's turned into today. Right. Right. So you had a job and you had a side hustle that you would at the same time. So you were going really hard to make some things happen?
Yeah. A lot of energy drinks, a lot of late nights, a lot of leveraging the fact that I had insomnia, like a lot of just around the clock completely unhealthy. And I don't advise it, but you, you know that, that, that was my story, hmm. Got it, got it, got it. So then what, what happened, what was the transition like to get from there to where we're at today? What business really happened for you and kick things off that you were able to leave publics and say okay, I'm gonna do this entrepreneurship full time.
Yeah, it's two major things happened. One of them is I had an expensive ex girlfriend and I was the type that wanted to just constantly go out and get stuff for her and my side hustles. My jobs weren't enough. So I was that guy. And the other thing that happened is my side hustles to try to support that. We're getting to the point where it was like, okay, well I'm making a lot more than my sub job, let's quit that. And then I'm making more than the dairy clerk, let's quit that.
And I started dropping all those jobs and it found me pretty much at that time doing full time Ebay which is garage sales auctions, it was anything I could get my hands on to sell odd jobs and my family and friends see this and say you know wow this is, they identified it as entrepreneurial. They, they started recognizing some of my conversations as like marketing, digital marketing. They started giving me these terms that I was now like yeah, yeah, that's what I am. So They decided well for me to be successful, I needed some help and they pulled together $81,000 and they invested it in me which I immediately went to go invest on a factory that I have been working with on Alibaba for adult novelty.
So I was getting this product for like 18 cents and selling it for like 20 bucks. Mm I wanted to get anyone calls, get 18 cents still and stuff. Listen to his cost that he has for these products guys. Pay attention to that. So I'm I'm flipping these things on ebay and when I get this money I'm thinking like I'm gonna be the next bill gates like with those margins $81,000 worth of these things. So I approached the Elvis who is the name of the guy at Factory named pleasure chest and I'm like this is what I want to get $81,000.
Obviously a factory doesn't hold that much inventory in stock but in my ignorance, I just thought I was being bi est. So what I did was I looked for somebody else on Alibaba who was gonna take me, you know serious doing air quotes here. Like they're gonna take me serious and sell to me right now. And I found someone named Usman Si SE And I sent him my money and he stole everything from me. There was no it wasn't a factory was a total scam. In my ignorance, I lost everything.
So your family pulled together for you, $81,000 Gave you that $81,000 and You got scammed. I lost it in less than 10 days. Less than 10 days. Mhm. Okay. So right there I would have been in trouble. What what happened for you next Their heart what? How'd you make a note of that? Uh huh. This is the next big part how I make it out of it. That I think I feel like a lot of my success stems from just not knowing any better. Because had I known better, had I known you know numbers and books and all that, I would have looked at this and said this is a loss.
You should walk away from this. It doesn't make sense to continue almost. But instead I in my ignorance, I was like, we got to do this. I don't want anyone to look at me any different. You know, being broke with something that that point that I was a professional at, so there was no lifestyle change that was going to happen for me. What I did not want to change was those looks of success. I I didn't want to stop being called a digital market or I don't want to stop being called an entrepreneur, so I didn't let anyone know that I got ripped off, wow because you have to live up to that name, live up to the labels that they put on you and I loved them.
Like I had never felt so empowered by them and I was like, and I believed it, I felt like they were the right labels for me. Like it was what I loved, that was like finally something fit. I can wrap my head around this, you know. So I, I immediately, with little possessions I had, I tried to go out and flip them and get some like a seed capital to like start again and maintain whatever payment plan I was going to need to do to my investors, friends and family to maintain the facade.
One of the things I went to sell were two of my reptiles, Colombian red tail boa and a burmese python. So I have one snake in each pillowcase. I'm in a pet store, Person in front of me is paying $25 for 50 live worms. I interior teary eyed, desperate. I thought, where do worms live? I will dig all day long and sell worms like this is I'm a hard worker. I got this smartphone in hand just really in a daze by this because like things are clicking but I don't know what's happening.
I go into a public library in the same parking lot and I find an article by a zoologist that said that I think it's a herpetology department reptile department could save money breeding insects instead of paying top dollar on the private market. And I I was like breeding insects like I can breed them and sell them to zoos is what I thought like I was like, let me try this. So I I go to a container store to buy some containers and to try to make some like weird habitat to breed insects and I couldn't afford the containers.
So I started canvassing garage sales and getting them for pennies on the dollar. Fast forward about nine months. And I get a knock on the door by code enforcement. At this point I have pushing four million crickets just by themselves. Wait so you bring four million crickets and Dubai roaches and and you know and feeder worms and super worms and I have about four plus million of each breeding and bins like in a labyrinth of my house. My ex has left me that was it. You know juvenile digital marketers.
One thing who you were buying things for. Yeah. Yeah it was like okay juvenile no future digital marketer entrepreneur and the insect guy. No that's too much right. And so she bails Code enforcement if you don't know where it's like where everybody listening to this is from. But with Miami floor like code enforcement is knocking on your door in the middle of the night and they're doing anything after five PM. A lot has gone wrong like a lot. So 3. 54 million crickets going off in the middle of the night was deafening.
So I'm in a residential, you live, you actually lived there too, wow. I lived there with these insects that I was breeding. I was packaging up and selling them by the 123 or 4000 at a time live to, to, to reptile owners on ebay and amazon. Um, also, I had no idea how much money I was making at the time. Like there was no time to look at that. But looking back, I was selling 10, 15 units a day at an average price of about 40 bucks a day. So we weren't and I was doing it out of my house.
So there was no overhead, There was just my time and everything and I didn't realize that I had something here. Code enforcement kicks me out or tells me to get the insects out. I, I bluffed them. Or maybe it wasn't a bluff. And I said, look, we throw these insects out here. It's going to be an agricultural disaster. And they go with my bluff. I find someone the next day, a friend that's willing to let me get half his warehouse for free. I wind up getting the whole thing.
Like nobody is sharing their warehouse with with an insect guy. Right and fast forward. Another year. I pretty much lived on the, I mean, I still had a home, but I pretty much lived on the floor of my warehouse because I didn't, I didn't have time to drive back home back and forth. I needed to ship. I get approached by one of only five insect farmers in the us and purchase my company for $2. 6 million dollars Hice wow. So those are the two major points that changed it for me because when I make the sale first of all after everyone takes their cut uncle sam, the lawyers, the brokers, you don't have to 0.6.
So I mean I was left with more money than I thought I would ever see at one time. But it was a really long way from 2. 6 and I immediately I'm like I'm single, I now have some money and I just, I feel like I did what any other guy would do in that scenario that has never like lived like that you know and I I tried to live that life for about 5, 6 months and realized by this time next year I'm gonna be broke And I don't want to do that again.
And the only thing that I had 100% validated that I could do successfully because I mean what says success greater than you sold, you exited your business right is selling on amazon. So I immediately started a brand of beverage filling devices and I've just never looked back. Mm So where you're at, So this is where you're at now. So that transition that you actually went through, you have the girlfriend who he was doing this for. You had your family who kind of started calling these things and you kind of felt that that was like, man, yes, this is me.
I don't want to lose that. They give you the money, You go and go out and lose it all and you're at the bottom and you're like, hey, you walk into a library to do research and that kicks this new breeding of insects business off the ground that you sell. That brings you to what you are today. Now that from that money, this kicks off the business that you're in currently. Um It kicks off a lot of things. That definitely is where I go from. I keep doing what I'm doing.
I go broke again and I don't think there's any coming back from that just to let me launch, let me create another brand and do something to make money. Wait Carlos, hold on, hold on. You went broke again after you got that payout? Oh I've been broken. Yeah like I I immediately start another brand for beverage filling devices. It does great. I started Amazon wholesale business within a year. I'm at like 1416 million in gross sales. And I would pull up to the gas station thinking like like cycling through the last four digits of my credit cards, wondering which one would not decline because I had no concept of G. D. Elementary school dropout.
Like no one's taught me cash flow at this time. No one's taught me any of this at this time. I'm just like it comes in, I get more, I must be rich right? So like it doesn't it doesn't dawn on me until I have a break up with a business partner a little while later and someone, a friend sits down another pivotal moment and said look Carlos like you're not a millionaire like what you are is really good at moving money and not making money. And I was like there's a difference right?
So I realized then that there's business skills that I need. There's their finance skills that I don't need to be a C. P. A. I don't need to be a finance major but I do need to know this to run a successful business. Obviously I got ahead of it at that point. But yeah I had to peanut butter and jelly it again, I had vendors, it was a much easier startup. I wasn't starting from nothing but but yeah, so where we are now to where the last two years each year we've cracked 100 million in gross sales, we have healthy margins.
So I mean I've come a long way since. Amazing. Amazing. You know, I want employed you because I think most people would have thrown in the towel at that point. So just your persistence and your resiliency to get back up and just push on man. Amazing story that I think manu you're inspiring a lot of people, a lot of people. So tell me about this team now and and this team that you're leading because if you're at this stage now, what does that look like and who's on the team that supports you to get all this done now?
Carlos as far as support on the team. I think it I think it goes both ways when I sold that first business I and I splurged and did all that money to two things I did invest in when I started realizing that that I was gonna go broke at the rate I was going on is I saw that there was these things called masterminds and mentors and getting a coach and that all seemed like a lot of hocus pocus to me until I sold the business and I started being around people that were like kind of running in those circles and I saw that they really put these people on pedestals and I was like, well if I'm gonna do this right, I need, I need to work with somebody.
And the two, the two areas that I felt that I was the weakest was I felt that I had to do everything myself. And I saw that other entrepreneurs that we're living the life and running the businesses that I wanted to run and live, they weren't doing it by themselves. The other one was something I struggle with to this day is organization. I'm pretty sloppy when it comes. Like if you saw my desk right now you'd be like, this is uh, this is a pack rat, like, Like you know what I'm saying, what do they call it?
The harder, this is a hoarder. Like. And so I hired a coach, I think I'd be like $40,000 for a coach on like organize my life and they trail you around for two or three weeks and I hired someone named Chris Ducker. Also for about $40,000 who wrote the book Virtual freedom, which pretty much what I paid for you. Someone can get for like nine bucks now on a kindle. But the, yeah guys, you can get with columns guy for 40,000 for nine bucks pick up that can do because college dropping nuggets down.
Yeah, it was, it was me, it would be required reading for someone to start a business. But the organizational side, it was this beautiful woman and, and, and, and I was just living wild and that didn't end well. I started a relationship, there was no organization. It was even worse. But with chris, it obviously wasn't that way and chris taught me through through his trainings and stuff on how to, his, his, what he taught me laid the foundation for me to build teams virtual and otherwise and how to not really be a slave to them.
Because let's face it, if you have four employees that's a part time job like just fielding what to do next. And you know if you don't know about processes and S. O. Ps. And like having a plan and and most importantly hiring people smarter than you and that gets back to what you just said. So how how we help each other and how we support on the team is it's really simple. I just hire people smarter than me. I I hired people that could run circles around me and I just make sure that they're not too passive.
I need someone that can say Carlos that's stupid. Like Carlos that won't work right? So if you're too passive and you can't do that it doesn't matter how brilliant you are. I need both. Yeah. Well that, that just says something about you as being a leader, right? Most leaders who stay in the position. They don't want people to tell them when they miss it. For you to say that you need someone on the team that's going to actually call you out. She speaks volumes to your character.
I appreciate it. I'm not saying that it feels good when somebody calls you out. It still doesn't feel good, right? But no, I get it because I've been around leaders, right? I've been around leaders who is in a leadership position, but they don't want the feedback. No, I have enough of that around me. Like for my different groups, that everyone's like, Carlos, That's amazing. You know, Carlos, I love your shirt and Carlos and I'm like, no. Like I need you to come up to me and tell me I'm missing a button.
I need you to like you to tell me like I kind of suck at something. I need you. You really, you should hire that out. Carlos. Like you're not very good at that. That's what I need. That's attractive to me. Got it, got it amazing. Call us, tell me what's going really well in the business now for you. Two major things. One of them is I've just like tripled down on voice technology, especially with Alexa voice technology also with google home. So just, I really feel we're getting to a spot where search is going to fundamentally change as, as voice technology rolls out something as simple as if if we were talking now say we're at your place and we're playing cards.
And then I said, you know, best running back with the most yards walter Payton. And you said no it's somebody else. What we would do is we would individually go to our devices and we would look it up. So it's a very single salt like solo act that we're doing but with voice things change and this is a simple thing but I feel like it's it's the small hinge that swings the big door and that is, we would just call out as a group. It's more of like group involvement in search.
So I'm just triple quadrupling down on voice technology and how it will impact my different businesses and I'm excited. Something in the amazon space that I'm really doubling down on is a little known thing that amazon rolled out which is live video. So facebook live video now exists on amazon with their own version and as a lot of people know they bought twitch so they have the infrastructure and think Q. V. C. Home shopping network had a baby removed. All friction. That is amazon live video that's a huge college.
That's huge. So what you're saying you're saying that amazon has launched is this launched yet? It's launched. If you go to amazon you just googled amazon live video you now have just an entire feed of live videos that are happening right now and that are scheduled to come up plus past videos. I mean it's it's amazing and nearly This is this is a time as a as a business owner if you have something to sell service or product. But obviously Amazon is more catered towards products. This is a time now where you have a location that it's not 80 20 it's not a.
T. Value 20 cell. Someone's watching your live video on amazon it is sell sell sell it's like 80 cell If you just get into too much value, like I'm here to buy. So this is, it's a huge shift and I'm looking at that a lot and I guess I'll drop a third one in here that I'm, that's a big deal for we're focusing on is just, it seems to be the explosion of paid email. So email. God, yes. I just, best example I can give is if you look up no affiliation whatsoever, I just happen to like them.
But if you look up morning brew And what this is is two different models is we're going from a spot of half the people are saying emails dead. I'm not, I don't believe that, but like half the people say emails dead. You have this growing segment that is saying not only is it not dead, but if you want to be on my email list, it's like $2 a month or I'm gonna put together such amazing curated content that I'm going to monetize ad placements on my email so morning brew hustle, there's a few others, I see it as like a really fast growing area that I want to tap into this.
So those would be my three things to answer that. Lovely, lovely, lovely. That's kind of like, really, what's next for you? Listen what you're actually working on now in the business. Love it, love it, love it, love it. You know, you said so much and I guess my question for you is do you feel that your personal growth has been affected by what you've been doing in the entrepreneurship world, personal in the sense of personal, your personal growth, so you growing personally has your business activity how to impact on that 100%.
But I think I think it goes a step further than that in my opinion. Like I I just, I just, I've learned I've been I was in a toxic relationship as I shared and now I'm married to an amazing woman and I feel like having being able to compare the two. I feel like there's a direct correlation between the level of success you can achieve with a supportive partner and without. So I'm going to say that I feel like a lot of my successes are because I have such an amazing wife, like my go to like, I feel like that's the mastermind you need that everyone should have.
And so I have, I have a solid mastermind and that's my wife and I, so from that it's allowed me to take risks and and and push push limits at a personal level, which in turn allows me to just, you know, really, I don't want to sound conceited, but I'm I'm doing some pretty amazing stuff, like being able to, like, affect some really positive change through my businesses. So that that's really the path that I see it going, that right there is amazing. I don't think most people have that view in that perspective that you have, but really what you're saying is that, hey, at the end of the day, you come home to your mastermind?
Yeah. And you are massive mind with your wife to build out the next level of your legacy. Yeah, that's that's what it is, like. That's your foundation. Everyone's focused on where some exotic place I can go attend to mastermind. Like, okay, I'm sure it's great. But what about your main mastermind? Like, where are you at with that? You've got to say that again column. Got to see that again. It's not about getting on a plane and going to join this mastermind. Hey, do you have a massive mind in your house and alliance in your house that you can build something with that same checklist you're looking at to evaluate whether this masterminds for you, can you apply that to your house?
Oh my goodness, that and if you can't stop thinking about Puerto rico, stop thinking about bali like stop thinking about these exotic places to go hang out with your friends, like get this in order and everything else is gonna line up. So call us, I'm gonna put you on the start here. So are you, are you kind of saying that, hey, if your house is not in order, that's going to impact your business? Absolutely, and I can say that it's obviously an opinion, I can say that it does not mean that you cannot be you know successful.
That's a definite different definite, You can get wealthy in your business, is what I am saying is that if your house is not in order, there is a very, very clear ceiling that you will not be able to get, that you will not be able to break through. That's powerful, That's powerful. And I never thought about it that way, but I think it's so true, you know what I mean? There's a certain level of capacity that you can actually get to if your house is out of order. Absolutely.
Like you need that mastermind, Just, just, just again, the checklist of a mastermind, whatever that thing is for you, whatever you've looked at, like, you know, if you apply it to home, can you check all those boxes? Right? Because because when, when I when I after this later today, feel like Carlos, man, like your, you, so you're not worried, you can't do this. Like who do you think you are? You have a G. D. Like when I, when that, when that doubt starts setting in, who am I going to go to?
Like, who do I need to check that at any entrepreneur that says they don't deal with that man. I, I gotta call V. S. So like, yeah, yeah, that, that, that it's so amazing cause I'm gonna put the pressure on you. You're gonna have to generate to my community the checklist that they need to check off and make sure that the house is in order with the communities that checklist when they need to check in with their spouse should get it over to you, man. Amazing. Amazing.
Amazing Carlos. Just, you know, any advice, any advice that you want to give to the community? You dropped so much already, but anything else that you want to give the community says that, hey, you know, there's another entrepreneur that's looking to step out and go into business, what advice would you give them? Wow. Uh huh uh I guess the best advice I could give, if I could give one is going to sound so cheesy, but when you, when you get into it, it's going to be crystal clear and that is, and that's no, your why you have to know your why?
Yes, your avatar is important. Absolutely and all these other things are important. But if you don't know your, why that every other bit of advice kind of falls on deaf ears, at least it did for me, you know, like, but you know what, if you fall down, just get up or one step at a time, one step forward. And the thing is, there's been so many times in my business is where I've been so punch drunk from the quote unquote failures that I, I had, that my compass was off.
Like I didn't know what up was like, I didn't know what forward was. If you have a why, if you have a strong why and your crystal clear about it, you'll always know the direction in my opinion on on where you can go. So in that sense, just if you're strong, why I feel like it's fundamental for all your success. No, your why Amazing. Amazing. Call us any final thoughts that you want to share the community. This was amazing. Um no final. I mean just uh from Nike man, just do it like, like impact lives.
That's it, help people, you know something, you have an offering, you have something inside you that can, can, can really like provide positive impact on people and that's what it's all about. Do it, keep listening to this podcast if anyone wanted to reach me or anything, like be around people that, that are also fire starters and not firefighters, you know, like, and just fan the flames and keep going Absolutely, cause that's a great point. If people want to connect with you, how should they reach out to you?
How can they get it connected to Carlos? Alvarez? Yeah, on social media, anywhere at wizards of amazon. If you, you want to contact me outside of that on these podcasts, I leave it, nobody does it. But a text 3059021283 you can text me, you can even protect me and say, hey, that thing you said about, I'm divorced and I'm successful, I think that's bs and we could have a convo about that. Like I can clarify things. No, it's all good. I love it. I love it again. I, I love to be challenged on that like, and there's a lot to unpack there, but just huge, huge, thank you for having me on the show.
Yeah, call us man, I so appreciate your time. You just dropped a lot of nuggets to share with my community. I think your inspiration for the entrepreneur who doesn't know you know the next step and how to make it. But I think everything that you just shared on this, they should get inspiration from your story. I know I was inspired from your story tells me that I need to go back and do some work. But amazing man, thank you so much for your time, Carlos and I wish you much mutual success, my friend Well, Tracy, Mcgrady. Thanks