Inspiring Interview with Entrepreneur Alain Walder about Travel, Poker, and Location Independent Entrepreneurship

 

Hey, guys. Trevor here of the eCommerce Paradise podcast. 

We're here today with a friend of ours named Alain Walder. He is an entrepreneur out here in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Alain:
Thank you for having me.

Trevor:
It's really cool to be here and to be able to network with so many entrepreneurs. What brought you to Chiang Mai in the first place? Why do you come out here?

Alain:
I was living in Vietnam before, and we were missing a bit of a community of entrepreneurs. We do not have many papers flying out from Iowa. The biggest place for digital nomads and entrepreneurs in Southeast Asia. So the decision was not to be easy. We wanted to really to be surrounded by other people and be really pushed in our business. That's why we decided to come to Chiang Mai.

Trevor:
Have you made a lot of good people out here?

Alain:
Definitely. I've been living here for a little bit more than one year, so it's been pretty good. There are many fun meet-ups, and a part of this community Dynamic TCR is also living here. I came here is my fiancée. She's also running an online business focus on education consulting. She was the person that inspired me actually to leave my finance schoolboy job and also start this entrepreneur journey.

Trevor:
Let's go back in time a little bit and talk about that. How did you go from corporate finance to thinking about starting an online business and traveling.

Alain:
I worked in private equity until mid-2014, and things started to go a bit less well at my job. I started to be a bit unsatisfied. My fiancée was already doing online business for one year. I always wanted to be an entrepreneur, to be my own boss. I had a bigger vision for my life as I also wanted to enjoy being away and not on the work like investment banking hours.

We actually left for Bali, where we spend six months. In Bali, I started my new agency with a very good friend of mine. After some time, I figure out I was not particularly eager to deal with clients so much, and it was almost like back to being in the job. But this one, a job that I did not like, was the previous one I actually liked.

Then I found poker. I started to play online poker. I found some success and then transitioned to playing live in Manila, Las Vegas, and the World Series of Poker this year. Poker is a very up and down journey, so I wanted some more stable income on the side.

I started an FBA business focused on the European markets. I'm looking into drop shipping to complement my FBA business.

Trevor:
What got you to start an FBA business specifically? Did you take any online course and meet some people that taught you how to do it?

Alain:
I actually never actually thought about FBA when I was at the meeting people, and they were saying that the FBA is strong, and what they do is locally owned business did not seem really inspiring to me. But I had to meet up with dynamic people in Chiang Mai. It was like ten people, and all of them were doing FBA. And so, the whole evening was about the FBA, and I really got inspired by their journey and what they were doing. It got me to think that I want to do it.

"Yes, I want to do this."

That got me interested but did not launch right away because I was very busy. I spend a lot of time on online poker. I mean, sometimes I spend months around the world.

Julianna:
Can you explain a little bit where you started, where your journey took you, and how you ended up in Chiang Mai out of all the different countries you visited?

Alain:
When I was in Switzerland, I moved to Bali, then to Vietnam. I was in Vietnam and one here in Thailand. We actually want to move back to you to be close to our family. Now, there's a big community of entrepreneurs there. We will be moving there and maybe thinking about Austin, Texas.

Trevor:
Yeah, that's where the Dropship Lifestyle headquarters are. That's kind of cool.

Alain:
I have some friends living there. We also saw that maybe the biggest community entrepreneurs won money moving out of Silicon Valley and other places to come to Austin, Texas, to launch their business. Since we're in Spain this year, there's a huge entrepreneurial community out there as well. So that's a good idea.

Julianne:
I'm interested to hear about Bali. I heard that there's a lot of co-working bases there. How is the digital nomad community out there?

Alain:
We stayed in the center, Ubud. They have a great co-working space there. I really appreciated that it's where I started my location independent journey. I had a lot of mastermind and mix-ups as I manage to have some people whom I respected. People in the community come and give workshops, and you always meet people every day because the Internet in Bali is not good. You have to go to the co-working space to work during the day. And you always meet people there.

Julianna:
That's good to know. Because we're going to go there at the end of this month. We were wondering, and I heard the traffic is really bad. Is that true?

Alain:
One in Ubud is a pretty small village. I wouldn't say the traffic is so bad, but I suggest you plan more when going to the airport because you might cross the road for a ceremony or something. But, you know, after six months in Bali, you start to get to be bored because it's still a little village. That's why we moved to Saigon, a struggling, bustling city.


Can you talk a little bit about the consulting agency that you started up? That was your first venture into being in a location that created a business like that, which is really cool. But what was it about it that turned into like a worse stage out than you had before that? What part of it made it so bad? Can you go in-depth about that?

Alain:
What started me was making orders for research and calculation. I was in Bali when I met an Indian guy. He went to the supermarket, but he did not have the skills to deal with people. We're a partner. He was in the background, and I was doing more contact because some on the front end and dealing with all docs. I was dealing with many complaints.


Trevor:
How did you guys get this as well as here? How did you get contracts with small businesses, and whom were you selling to small businesses?

Alain:
I did a lot of color-coding. We were focused on space-specific industries like real estate, financial industry, and developed case studies specific to the industry. Now we'll go to other companies in this industry and show them that we already did the website and that we have a case study.

Trevor:
What was that process? Was it like a lot of trying to reach out by phone or e-mail? Did you actually meet up with them in person, or did you just talk them over the phone?

Alain:
At some point, I want to contact in person. There are certain types of contracts, and I want to offer them a price contract. I did not see myself going back and forth, so I just kind of ended with both at some point.

Trevor:
It sounds great to start with because there's a high margin with that kind of business. You're obviously selling the services. It really pays as whatever salary is and then whatever it costs for the hardware and the software. It also sounds like it takes a lot of your time. It's set a very high opportunity cost in terms of your time. If someone else out there is trying to start it on my business or considering which business model to start, would you suggest a good way to start a common business? Or would you suggest starting with something else, like a different business model?

Alain:
That really depends on the person. I think a great way to start small. Some videos, reviews, and promoting software is going to help you understand everything about online marketing, how to do Facebook, how you do VPC, how you do as he or, you know, things stand out.
But if you have a skill, you know that you really need money right now, you need to be able to provide services as a freelance.

The consulting agency is kind of like freelancing, but on a bigger scale. It's sort of creating a bigger business out of a freelance thing. I think it's where many people want to start and want to grow. They want to create that agency business model where you guys outsource in a lot of the work to different workers. We also see development in the Philippines and some customer support.

Trevor:
As a worldwide company, it is amazing how easy this is to start now if you think about it. Back in the 80s and 90s, I mean, doing a consulting agency would just be so insanely difficult. You'd be dealing with people over the phone. And, you know, I mean, it's kind of like hearkening back to the newspaper days of the magazine days when they were doing advertising and stuff like that. Most things are just local, and now it's so easy to expand across the world.

And how long does it take for you to start this company up? How difficult is it to start a process before you start making money?

Alain:
It took me a month or two. It's incredible and really hard.
That company was on nine months and found out it was still running to make money by.

Julianna:
You started playing poker online as well. How do you how do you do that? For me, I think like a professional poker player, they go to Vegas, right? That's what I think.
How did that work?

Alain:
One, if you want to be good at poker, you need to commit much experience online. You can be much more hands in one year. Your company wants to profit from being a player. Playing Las Vegas, doing ten years, you know, you're going to get one million off hands blade and doing one year. I think online was really good to get down on 86 or is a strategy planned out. And then afterward, when I was fully confident, I made the transition online and integrated like can you out into my game and things like that. Nowadays, I much more enjoyed being live, and online is awesome.

Julianna
How does that work? Do you have like a webcam to see your face when you're playing poker, or is it just completely like you did your computers?

Alain:
It's complicated. It's like a computer game sort of.
The software and username some with some money you need. Americans cannot really play online poker. It's been banned in the U.S. It used to be easier because I'm in Canada, known as a big fish, putting much money.

Trevor:
At what point did you decide to kind of put it off?
Was it because you were losing a lot of money, or was it like one big loss or what? What kind of made you change from that to serving a solid long term online business?

Alain:
I'm still playing poker, but, yeah, I had a vision and a long time to run an investment fund, and my hope was to make money from poker and thousands upon source so far and off. My idea was to develop an auto business that FBA business dropship business that I can sell one or two years down the line for on and off, and then put the money into an investment fund.

I see myself as not running a business in the long run, but running an investment fund full time. I need a plan on how to accumulate starting capital.

Trevor:
You transition and then started doing day trading thing you were talking about, right? Can you talk more about that?
It was an option for options.

Alain:
I actually saw option is the closest to something that you can find to poker. You can win and get to specific probability and just base on lost like best but opposite to the country. I'd imagine you will lose money in the long term in option trading. You put the as in your favor. For some, the market overestimates volatility, and you get paid for that. By doing that, you use a strategy that works like insurance. You know, you sell option and make money because I put the probabilities in my favor instead of having a 50/50 market goes up, the market goes down, you can work your way to AB like 70 percent chance of winning, you know.

Trevor:
You're basically betting against it and with it the same time, that sort of an insurance option. Is that how it works?

I'm not trying to say we took a course. We mentioned this a while back. I actually asked for it in Every day with Johnny Jeff. We went to a rich dad for that seminar. One of them was on options trading. It's really interesting. It was way over our heads, but it was really interesting.

Alain:
It's very overwhelming because I dislike the new language and new fees and not one place money without really knowing everything, you know.

Trevor:
I did get a brokerage account, and I got approved for margin, and we were going to do the options and then read about that time we started making money drops.

Alain:
You could go back to option trading and the signing form.

Trevor:
That's in the future. The world is filled with so many opportunities and different things you can do to have fun and make some money.

I'm curious, when did you sign for drop ship lifestyle? When did you take that training?

Alain:
I did it last year. I was a bit of a slope, and I think we spoke, and I took it last year and looked at different opportunities, and certainly, things started to accelerate. We spoke again.

Trevor:
How was your experience with the course? Was it fun first?

Alain:
A year ago, it was so difficult to remember everything. I took a lot of notes. I'm not sure if it's the cost us upgraded now. I paid pretty close attention to what they're doing there. They're going to add more content to it in a couple more months. It will be launched again, and you get access to that because you're a part of it. Anybody else who buys it gets access to the new content when it gets uploaded, which is really courts and a system. It's just like a lifetime access thing when you get it.

Trevor:
We just got this lifestyle in May this year, and we're really happy with it. We had a dropshipping business before, and then we sold it, but we didn't know how to start another one. It was like trying to figure it out. We had a hard time doing it and had no idea what we were doing. We took the course, and then we kind of got lucky, and we were able to get back into the niche.

We decided because we would like to learn specific things about how to do it right. We wondered, was there anything about the course specifically that you learned that is going to help you? Do you think in the future with your new dropship ventures mean the research is really a big thing?

Alain:
If you don't get to be unique, then you might not make so much money.

Trevor:
Do you have any experience with web design yourself like you did the agency?

Alain:
I did not do the website.

Trevor:
Have you ever messed with Shopify before?

Alain:
I haven't.

Trevor:
That's okay. Shopify is really easy as far as web designs go.
Can you talk a little bit about your dropship that you're going to start over? We're talking about it earlier and might not go into too much specifics about your niche, obviously, because you don't want other people to copy your niche. But let's talk about where it's going to be.

Alain:
I find the U.S. market really crowded and really harder to do any get well-positioned if you want to run the odds. Things also, of course, are much more expensive. If I focus on the open market, I can do much cheaper promotion. I have a real chance for ranking the top times for some.

Big keywords and then funding volume is lower. If it plays into my strength, I can many I follow a store for every country.

Trevor:
You're thinking about doing like niches, but specifically for each country.

Alain:
Yeah. Such as the U.K. Because I think the U.K. market is ready for dropship. My niche definitely can look in the U.K. and after some success and extend to maybe Germany and enough to France, and we see afterward. I think we need a true market. UK, Germany, and France are the most profitable.

Trevor:
What are the risks, things that you think are drawbacks for starting in the European market? You talked about the lower quantity of people looking for the products as opposed to us, but there are like a tax system differently set up or know if there are fewer suppliers to like 80 or else you can think of.

Alain:
Yeah, I mean, it's when you want to do is different suppliers. It's good to speak their own language. As a European, speaking in the same language is a great opportunity, and I have fewer people to compete with.

Trevor:
And you said that there weren't any too many competitors in your niche in those markets. Do you think that might make it? That's probably like a pro and con, right? The pro will be like that you're kind of the first to market as far as the online store thing goes, but the con might be that it will be harder to start.

Alain:
It might be difficult, but not a solo thing. It is a really good opportunity as people see that it's working them to replicate it. I would also have a better ranking and better position.

Trevor:
The U.S. is separated by states. Each state has its own resellers permit. How does that work in Europe? Do you have to get a research permit like the country that you're in order to sell there?

Alain:
I'm not so sure about it. In the beginning, when I was worried about paying taxes? But, you know, as long as you don't make any money, the tax and everything would worry about you when you're ready, make meaningful money, and don't have anywhere you start as location.
As entrepreneurs, you shouldn't worry about those fees. Spend money on the research and get things like products and supply.

Julianna:
You've been traveling and trying out different eCommerce ventures. How did you afford to pay? Did you have savings when you first started? Did you like it? You just continue to move the money again and again to these new ventures.

Alain:
I have some savings before leaving my job. It was not nine to five was more like No. Eight to 10. High five or something. And yeah, I saw, you know, tough pressure to make money on the wealthy from the get-go. Because if you feel you push against the doors and you might work harder. I was lucky that I could rely on my saving.

Trevor:
That's a good coincidence to have in the bank account. Today I just wanted to bring this up, the U.S. elections just happened. And the first thing we never thought would have been elected president actually got to like the president. Do you think it's going to change like international markets? I mean, is there going to be an effect with Donald Trump being president on businesses and stuff like that? I heard that the stock market already crashed. Is there anything that you can fit in that I bought?

Alain:
I'm not an expert on anything, but the market predicted Clinton would win; that's why there was such a shock in the market, and the currency dropped a lot. But I think it was a long time. It's business as usual. And also, before the election and option trading markets, it was business as usual. Nothing changes. I think maybe for some countries like Russia would be very beneficial because nothing the U.S. was trying to do better relationship with them.

Trevor:
What's your favorite part about being a digital nomad, location independent entrepreneur? Think about what we're really just like tips it off for you.

Alain:
That's a difficult question.
Well, I get to meet new people every single day from so many different backgrounds.
I will meet on the finance before concerting people and meet our teams. I meet designers and meet entrepreneurs. It's really opened my mind.

Trevor:
Thank you so much for being on our podcast and sharing your story with our audience. We're glad to hear that you're living your dream life and you're living in your paradise, which is really wonderful.

And if you guys want to check out our Dropshipping Masterclass and our blog about what you need to get started.

Thank you very much.
Take care.


Resources for Starting A High-Ticket Drop Shipping eCommerce Store

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eCommerce Paradise was created by Trevor Fenner of Seattle, Washington in 2015 to help you, the entrepreneur, to start and scale your own eCommerce business selling high-ticket products online with the drop shipping fulfillment method so you can make more profit per sale, have a sustainable and evergreen online business, get started with very little upfront investment, and live a location independent lifestyle. Trevor owns multiple 7-figure High-Ticket Drop Shipping eCommerce stores and is a digital nomad, traveling the world while working remotely with the help of his team of over 10 virtual assistants from around the world. Trevor is currently located in Bali, Indonesia. Trevor is also a passionate skateboarder, surfer, scuba diver, photographer, environmentalist, outdoorsman, fitness and tattoo enthusiast.



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