Why I’m Doing the Monsoon Turnaround

Nine weeks ago, when I acquired Monsoon, I arrived with the motivation to turn around a company I once knew. I remembered the company from my time in Portland ten years ago and all the promise it had back then.

I love turnarounds and stories of redemption. I love the idea of taking what is lost and forgotten in the world and making it amazing again. And frankly, I needed a project.

One of the first things I did after coming on board was to reach out to every customer. I had calls with close to 40 small and mid-sized retailers and brands who relied on Monsoon for their business, and email exchanges with many more.

It turned out they weren’t happy. Monsoon had been in a holding pattern for years — very little innovation and almost no communication with customers. It went beyond wanting new features. Many were on their way out the door.

They had heard promises before so were skeptical, but thrilled to know that things were about to change. The fact that someone was finally here to listen, and had a plan, was a big first step.

But something else happened during those conversations. I got to hear their stories.

I heard stories of companies started by grandparents that were now in serious decline. Once-flourishing brick and mortar stores that had switched to selling online when it was all promise, but now didn’t know where to turn. Ambitious entrepreneurs that started strong and were now questioning every move.

Mostly stories about how hard it has gotten. The once-massive promise of selling online — especially on marketplaces, with free demand, payment processing and the tools to push inventory through — has turned into a race to the bottom for pennies. A state of pure competition where the little guys can barely survive. They are pushing product through but no sense of where to find profit. Good for Amazon and Alibaba, but not the little guy:

Now, I am a capitalist. At some point, good information flows will push out intermediaries who aren’t providing much value in the chain. A vendor selling the same camera as 100 other merchants with no differentiation is always going to have a hard time no matter what.

But a company that has a story, ambition, data and a unique offering shouldn’t suffer that way. A company that knows more about its products than other players and can help its customers navigate their purchase should find a way to exist in the world. They should find a way to own their destiny and profit, and live in harmony with the marketplaces.

That became my driving force: helping these retailers and brands with drive and uniqueness find their market, tell their story, and grow their business profitably.

Some forward-looking companies are already thriving by embracing the art (narrative) and science (data) required to play in this environment. These are the renaissance sellers. This is the future.

Our mission is now to help all of the promising brands and retailers own their demand and optimize their growth around the most profitable channels — to have the data to make better decisions and the power to bring their narrative to the world.

To fuel the renaissance sellers.

More to come soon.