Entrepreneur Loses $6 Million, Bounces Again


I’m all the time amazed on the resilience of many profitable enterprise individuals, people who overcome big-time failures. Warren Buffett summed it up when he mentioned, to paraphrase, “Success is the method of overcoming errors.”

Shakil Prasla not too long ago made a giant mistake. An astute ecommerce operator and proprietor, Prasla bought in late 2020 Covid-related protecting gloves at roughly twice the final word promoting value. His firm, Gloves.com, misplaced $6 million.

He advised me, “It took three months for our merchandise to reach. By then vaccines have been out, and demand fell. We panicked. We did a fireplace sale at a 50% low cost from our buy value. We misplaced about $6 million. It sucks.”

I first interviewed Prasla for this podcast again in 2019. He was as clear then as now, sharing his experiences to assist others. He did that once more not too long ago when he and I mentioned his gloves mistake and transferring ahead.

What follows is our complete audio dialog and a transcript, which has been edited for size and readability.

Eric Bandholz: You and I first spoke on this podcast two years in the past. You have been constructing a formidable portfolio of ecommerce companies with borrowed cash. However you skilled a setback earlier this 12 months.

Shakil Prasla: Sure. The trail that I selected has execs and cons. It’s dangerous. Taking up debt requires money stream to repay it. When the money stream shouldn’t be there, you need to pull from someplace or borrow much more cash. Most of my selections have labored out. However some haven’t. I’m at the moment in a disaster the place one hasn’t labored out. However I’ve discovered rather a lot about myself. I’d do it once more.

Bandholz: What occurred?

Prasla: Final 12 months throughout the pandemic, we began getting inquiries about masks, robes, and gloves. We didn’t carry these merchandise, however our producers in China advised us they may make them. So we began importing masks and robes and studying about private protecting gear.

We weren’t doing it on a big scale, however we constructed some good relationships. And throughout the summer season, costs tanked for masks and robes. So we targeted on gloves. I noticed long-term potential for that enterprise. Dentists, physicians, nurses, tattoo artists, barbers — all will use gloves, even after Covid.

So I purchased Gloves.com, the area identify. I imagine in these precise domain-match key phrases for SEO and branding credibility. So I purchased Gloves.com for seven figures. I had by no means spent that a lot on a site. And, individually, we purchased a bunch of stock.

In This autumn 2020, once we purchased Gloves.com, all was going nicely. We have been making 30% revenue margins with excessive quantity. I made a decision to deal with scale to realize much more clients. I went all in. We purchased over $10 million in stock. Coordinating all of that — manufacturing, containers — created a manufacturing delay. Producers prefer to say, “It’s going to ship in a single to 2 weeks.” That’s by no means the case. You need to double it. For us, the delay was in depth. And by the point the container shipped, the Lengthy Seaside, California port was already congested.

It took three months for our merchandise to reach. By then vaccines have been out, and demand fell. We panicked. We did a fireplace sale at a 50% low cost from our buy value. We misplaced about $6 million. It sucks. It wasn’t investor cash. It was two companions and me.

Bandholz: Why didn’t you maintain on to the stock?

Prasla: Covid inflated the worth of PPE merchandise. Earlier than Covid, a field of gloves price $3 to $4. Throughout Covid, it elevated to $15. We paid $10 per field. As soon as the demand fell, the costs returned to pre-Covid ranges. We knew that might happen, however we didn’t suppose it could come so rapidly.

So having paid $10 per field, our gloves have been now promoting within the U.S. for $5. We ended up promoting a very good portion of the stock to non-U.S. clients in areas that lacked vaccines.

I violated the primary rule of investing: Don’t put all of your eggs in a single basket.

Bandholz: Are you bankrupt now?

Prasla: No, however I’m money stream poor.

My companions and I’ve had quite a lot of low factors, quite a lot of emotional breakdowns. It carries to our different companies, {our relationships}. It impacts our well being, our sleep, and different points of our way of life. I’m the heaviest I’ve ever been. However I’ve accepted it. I’m a lot happier now than a couple of months in the past.

We dwell in a tradition the place individuals share the great tales however not the dangerous. However we study from these dangerous ones. I’ve discovered that going for fast cash can lead to fast losses. I want to stay to what I do know finest, which was predictable money stream.

Bandholz: How lengthy will it take to dig your self out of this?

Prasla: Two years. I’m going to focus methodically on my corporations which have the most effective long-term prospects. And Gloves.com goes to be a sustainable enterprise. We’re beginning to see an uptick. Our purpose is to develop that firm and promote it in two years. We’ve bought quite a lot of the costly stock and replenished it with cheaper alternate options.

Bandholz: Did you need to promote your own home or your automobiles?

Prasla: No, I stored the home and the automobiles. I nonetheless have the identical stage of non-public debt. I modified one mindset: I’m not a model whore. I nonetheless want good clothes and issues. I wish to spoil my spouse. However I spoke with my household and mentioned, “We’re going to pause on lavish bills, equivalent to journey. We’re chopping bills to get via this.”

Bandholz: So this expertise hasn’t satisfied you to dwell debt-free?

Prasla: I get a thrill from carrying debt. It creates a surge of vitality, realizing that I must hold making these funds. Past that, it’s the return-on-investment side. Your greenback goes manner additional by borrowing, even when shopping for companies.

Right here’s an instance. Say I purchase an ecommerce model for $1 million at roughly 3 times its annual revenue of $333,000. With out debt, my ROI on the $1 million is 33%. But when I borrowed cash — sometimes the U.S. Small Enterprise Administration will finance with 10% to twenty% down — the return on my cash is far greater.

So with that $1 million I can purchase a number of companies. It’s a lot riskier, however I’m okay with that.

Bandholz: However you’re not shopping for something for 2 years. Did I hear that proper?

Prasla: That’s proper. I’m not going to purchase something. I must deal with rising my current manufacturers. Plus shopping for manufacturers normally includes enlarging our group. All of that takes funding, which I don’t have now.

Bandholz: All of us are grateful to you for approaching the present and opening up about what occurred with Gloves.com. I do know you. You’re an incredible individual, a pillar of the group. And now you’ve one other hyperlink on the chain of the data, so to talk. How can individuals attain out?

Prasla: My web site is ShakilPrasla.com. My e-mail deal with is on that web site. I’m additionally on Twitter and LinkedIn.


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