Victor Gichun is the Co-Founder of Excess Logic, the number one reverse logistics company which helps over 500 companies remarket and dispose of electronic equipment they no longer need. We discuss the key elements in the Business Success Triangle, the power of visualization, and how to work in the US on a tourist visa.
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Draw Your Business Success Triangle With Victor Gichun
My guest on this episode is Victor Gichun, the Cofounder of Excess Logic, the number one nationwide reverse logistics company, which helps over 500 companies remarket and dispose of electronic equipment they no longer need. Victor, welcome to the show.
Thank you so much for having me.
I’m grateful that you came to see us and discuss the topics that you are an expert on. Let’s start our conversation with how you got here. I’m going to ask about your entrepreneurial journey. How did you get to the asset disposal and remarketing company that you do? Give us more details on that and how you became the cofounder of that company.
I end up here in 2011, but it was my childhood dream since I was fourteen. I was born in the Ukrainian Republic of the Soviet Union. When I was fourteen years old, I watched a movie with Robin Williams in Moscow on The Hudson when the Russian musician fled from the KGB during a trip to New York. I look at how people in America look different from people in the Soviet Union.
They smile at each other. They say hi and they help each other. I’m like, “It’s a different world. I want to live there.” Since then, I was dreaming about moving here. In 2011, I finally moved here and two years later, I met my current business partner, the CEO of the company. We started this business here in the US pretty much from scratch. He had a very good local experience. He ran several businesses.
It was, for me, a no-brainer. My goal was to find somebody here who is smarter, more experienced than me, and who can complement my skills so we can work together and succeed. This is what happened after we started working together. This would be one of the first pieces of advice for anybody who wants to move to the US.
Find somebody local who moved here, or even better, if somebody was born here, but there can be some cultural problems. If, for example, you are from Europe and/or Asia and somebody is born here, there might be cultural problems. It’s better maybe to find somebody who’s from your country but moved here many years earlier and he or she lacks the skills that you have so then you guys can work together. It’ll be good and successful for the company.
How did you find each other? Are asset disposal and electric equipment something that you did back in Ukraine?
If it’s a new business, then how did you fall into this kind of business?
I moved from Ukraine to Russia first when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1993. The Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 when I graduated college and it was a total mess. I figured out that I can’t just move to the US without good English and enough money. I didn’t want to wash dishes for the rest of my life in the US. It was not my kind of American dream.
I decided to move first to Moscow because the biggest opportunity was, of course, in Moscow because it was the capital of the former Soviet Union so all the money and power was there. First, I moved there. I spent eighteen years there, and then after eighteen years building a business, and I graduated from different universities, then I moved here.
How I met my business partner here is an interesting story. Maybe some people who read this blog will be thinking I’m crazy. Guys, if you believe it or not, it’s up to you. Henry Ford said, “If you believe you can do it or if you believe you cannot do it, either way, you are right.” If you believe that I’m stupid or I’m crazy, you are right. If you believe it works, you are right too. I do believe, and that visualization always worked for me. Before you do something, you need to visualize the result that you want to achieve because the universe is mental.Before doing something new, visualize the result you want to achieve because the universe is mental. Click To Tweet
Wherever we get in physical reality, it’s all created first in our heads. This is how the universe works. I try to run the first business the same, which I had in Moscow. It was a software development business and when I moved here, I realized that this is a completely different environment and competitive level. The first thing which shocked me when I moved here was that I noticed that my competitors show advertisements and commercial primetime on TV.
My competitors in Moscow couldn’t afford radio advertisements and here I see the guys already raised hundreds of millions of dollars. The first thing I figure out is that I need to find something different. I spent my efforts preparing my Russian business for sale and looking for a local partner who has experience here, how the laws work, how business works, and how’s everything. I visualized some Russian tycoon that I respect because he is an engineer. He graduated from one of the prestigious Russian universities in the chemical industry.
He is an oil tycoon, but he is not like an oligarch who got everything from nothing. He built this business from scratch. I respect that person and I visualize that person. I understood I’m not going to get him as my partner, but you need to visualize something close to the picture you want to have. A few months later, I went to a party in Los Altos Hills, and I went to the backyard of the very nice mansion and I saw a guy who look exactly like that guy. You couldn’t believe me.
There were seven chairs. He was sitting in one chair and I came to him and I just said, “Is this your house?” He said, “Yes.” One chair was right next to him, available. I sat on the chair, introduced myself, and I spent the whole evening with him talking. I didn’t talk to anyone at this party because I saw this guy whom I started visualizing two months ago.
This is the guy you came to talk to and you made the connection. It’s amazing that you tell this story. I was looking for something on YouTube and I came up with this video where Bruce Springsteen in Melbourne is doing this concert and a guy is showing a sign that he wants to play with him. He puts him up on the stage. This is a fourteen-year-old guy, and they play one of the songs and sing one of the songs together. He plays the guitar and this is incredible. I went on this guy. I found his name and I saw his Facebook page. He built a relationship with Bruce Springsteen. He came to the US. He invited him, and he’s now helping him in his career to get off the ground, which is the same process that you applied with your mentor.
It works for everything. Just visualize good things. Don’t visualize bad things because they will happen too.
It’s garbage in and garbage out. That’s awesome. I agree with the visualization. It works. By the way, you said that you were inspired by this movie. I had the same vision in my head. I saw Back to the Future, which came out in the late ’80s or whenever. There was this scene where Michael J. Fox is riding this skateboard in the square of a small town in America. It’s stuck in this cityscape and it’s such a pretty square. I said, “This is such a gorgeous environment and I’d love to raise my family in a small town in America like this.”
Lo and behold, we moved to Richmond a few years ago and I did raise my family here. Visualizations are powerful. Let’s switch gears a bit because we have lots of good stuff to talk about. Let’s go to the management blueprint that you came up with. We call it the business success triangle. It’s your mental model of how to succeed. Can you share this with the audience?
First of all, it was the first step done right. If you are moving from a different country and you don’t have relatives like a brother or cousin with whom you run a business together, even if you do have one, first you have to try to find somebody local. It doesn’t need to be a cofounder. It can be somebody who will be helping somehow but the first part of the triangle is to find somebody local. It’s better if the guy will have meat in the game, and he will be your cofounder.
The second part is that you need to have two ages. The first edge needs to be in sales and marketing because you need to do something different in terms of the cost of acquisition and new leads for your business if you do the same things as your competitor do, you will be mediocre. You will not ever build a big great company. For many people, it’s okay to be at that level and make some six figures and be happy with it.
We’re talking about if you want to succeed and make seven and more figures individual income. You then need to find some way how you can get in leads more consistently and cheaper than your competitors. You need to build this ultimate sales machine that anyone can put in this machine without any sales skills. Also, the system and framework which should give to these people will make of them if they do what they are supposed to do.
They don’t need to graduate from Harvard or Warton School of Business or have connections. Anybody from the street you can put who can speak English, even with terrible accents as I have, and I’m still selling pretty way more successfully than some Native Americans who have no accent. They couldn’t sell because they don’t want to do cold calls or something like that. This is the second part.
The third part is that you need to have edge on the execution part again. This is what makes our business successful because my partner has unique skills and experience. Before we met, he had a 25-year of experience buying and selling surplus electronic equipment from different auctions before eBay or Amazon even existed. He created this catalog in his head so that he can look at the picture. He remembered it 15 years, 10 years, 3 years, or maybe 3 months ago, he already sold this thing, so he can tell whether this thing has value or doesn’t have value.
This has helped us to differentiate what items we pick up for free and share profits with clients if the client needs the profit or for something that we need to charge to dispose of. Otherwise, you will overflow your warehouse. You will finally run out of space, and then you will run out of money. These are two ages, the edge at which you acquire new clients and the edge at which you execute whatever you do. It could be software development, so you need to figure out what the edge would be in your software development or in selling something.
If you do an eCommerce business, again, you need to find the edge. Without edge, it will be just a mid-to-product. It will be mediocre. It doesn’t matter how hard you work. Without these three things, understanding things like the local environment, having an edge on the acquisition of new leads and having an edge on execution, you can’t build it. These three things are a must for any business.
Starting with the edge in execution, and maybe that applies to sales and marketing as well. I was reading one of the old Michael Porter books. It was a Boston Consulting book or strategy. One of the concepts that they talk about is the experience curve, which is a little bit like the learning curve, but it’s broader because it’s for the organization.
Even if people come and go, the organization can still become more experienced in something. They did the research so they have the figures to back this up. These Boston guys say that every time you double the experience and you accumulate in doing a process or doing something, then you become 20% to 30% more productive in doing that.
The time to execute and the cost to execute dropped by 20% to 30%. The longer you do something repeatedly, the more productive you become and you are creating this edge for yourself in execution. Now, there may be other ways to create that edge of execution, but the point is that many people make the mistake that the reason they don’t get the edge is that they’re always looking for the edge.
They’re trying new things and they never get good at something and stick with something to give themselves the chance to get good at it. Also, they never find that silver bullet edge that they’re looking for. Is this your experience that this is how the edge is created? How is edge created in execution in your view?
I agree with you. You need to spend enough time to create this edge because if you will be sitting reading books and watching YouTube videos trying to find the edge, it’s good. It’s going to help, but this may take forever. It’s trial and error. You need to try it, as you mentioned. We started building this, for example, Client Acquisition Nation in 2015. It took me about a year until I found a book that showed me the framework of how it should work.
We started trying, and believe it or not, in 2022, we finally developed something which is robust and I see how it’s working right now. It took about six years and I can tell right now that we do have this edge. If I give up in 2017 or 2018 or relax without trying to improve it, we wouldn’t get this edge. We would be maybe 20% or 30% better than our competitors, but we wouldn’t get where we are right now. It’s the same with my partner. Again, as I mentioned, before we met, he spent 25 years. It’s not 25 days or months. Some people retire after 25 years.
They’re saying that if you work hard for 25 years, you can become an overnight success.
He developed his edge and I met a lot of people who are trying to do similar things. They’re not even close because they don’t have what he has in his head that cataloged that experience. You can’t replicate it. You need to go through this experience. You need to spend time. One more thing I want to mention is that I have a YouTube channel, which I record different videos on this. People can see the contributors. They can go to TheContributors.com and they will find the YouTube channel to redirect it to my YouTube channel.
A lot of people fail for one reason. You go try to reach the summit of the mountain. Let’s say you made it two-thirds of the way, and you understand that where you are right now, you can’t make it to the summit. You need to go completely down where you started and take another trail. This is the biggest psychological problem for people to say, “I’m going to do it. I’m going to go down and I’m going to go to a different road.”
In business, many times you need to do 3, 4, 5, or 6 times, go completely to the basics and start at a different road. People try and try even though they understand they can’t make it from where they are, but they can’t psychologically go back to where they started. Let’s take Google, for example. Google had hundreds of millions of dollars of investment. Google AdWords was the number eight business idea that only started generating profit for Google. All the previous seven ideas were a complete mess. They didn’t make any money and they were able to keep on thinking and looking.
This is what made Google a great company, not an investment. A lot of companies raised a lot of money and they burned money. We know the story of WeWork and other companies. They raised hundreds of millions of dollars, but because they didn’t find that edge, they were not able to adjust their business model to get this momentum going without putting new money in. It’s no way to succeed.
Maybe that’s why a lot of companies that succeed start small so that when they make mistakes, then they make small mistakes, it won’t put them out of business. When you get too much money upfront, you’re going to make big mistakes because there is a lot of money to make the mistakes with, and then you lose the money. You lose your reputation and won’t get the chance to ever grow up.
I’d like to talk a little bit about another topic, the business success triangle. Find someone, whether it’s geographically local or someone in the field who has the experience who could be your mentor, this local person. Also, develop a sales engine and develop an edge in execution. Essentially, it’s an edge in sales and in execution. It’s a good model to keep in mind.
You have this YouTube channel and you’re helping people. You’re giving back. You’re helping other people to do the same thing to come to America and become successful. One of the things that struck my eye on LinkedIn, and I may have misunderstood, you say that you can come to America on a tourist visa. You don’t have a work permit, but you can start working in your own business. Does this work? Is this legal?
This is the only legal way to work in the US with a travel visa. All other ways are illegal. For some reason, people don’t know about that. I recorded a long video about this and a short one about this. The whole point is that when you move to the US as a tourist, you have a B1 or B2 visa. Also, for example, you have somebody who comes here as a student with an F visa. When you don’t have a working visa and a working permit, this is the only way you can start making money here. Work for someone.
Legally, you open and register an LLC. You register a company. It’s very easy right now to register. It doesn’t cost much money and it doesn’t take much time. You register an LLC, and you are no longer working as an individual who requires a working permit. You right now are a company. When you approach somebody to provide you services or whatever you do, it can be freelance services provided through Upwork or Fiverr, or it can be construction, it doesn’t matter. You get a job, not as a John Woo. You got the job as an ABC LLC, and the company paid to the LLC who contracted you, and you, as the CEO of this company, get your salary from your company, and this is completely legal.
You are self-employed. You can employ yourself without a permit.
It’s a very American thing. If that is true, as you say, I wonder why I bothered with getting an F1 visa at the time. I could have just done this, but I would’ve had to succeed in three months, which would’ve been difficult on a tourist visa. You need more of a runway, or maybe not.
It depends on what you are capable of doing. Right now, there are so many opportunities to make money. The biggest problem is not the number of opportunities for any business person or for any opportunistic person. The biggest problem is to stay focused on what gives you the biggest amount of money at the time you spend. You need to say no to 99% of things. This is the biggest thing. Every day I get 2 or 3 ideas for business, believe it or not. It was something that’s worked terribly and I don’t see a better solution. The first thing that comes to my mind is, “If I don’t have a full-time business, I will do it right now. I do it differently and it’ll be great.”The biggest problem is not the number of opportunities for any business person; it is staying focused on what gives you the biggest amount of money in the time you spend. Click To Tweet
You need to get married to your business. You can’t afford to date different businesses all the time. You have to commit to it and develop the edge. Also, ride the experience curve and get to the point where eventually, you break through.
Many entrepreneurs and I are guilty of it too. I was guilty of my previous businesses. You’re doing something hard. You get some level and you’re stuck at this level. You’re making this income with a 10% increase may be in your 20% increase, and you start looking for something different. What else can you do? You think there is a greener pasture over there, but you don’t understand this.
You are stuck here not because this is a big business model or a big business. You reach your internal, mental, and skills potential, so you don’t know maybe how to grow a team. You don’t have enough leadership skills. You don’t have enough self-skills and you don’t know how to hire. You need to work on yourself and on your skills in the business you are in right now, then, you can break through.
You might not need a mentor or an advisor or to go to a conference or seminar for this. You need to boost yourself, not jump from one business to another. This is where a lot of entrepreneurs fail. They jump from one business to another. They think they finally landed in some business, which will just give them millions of dollars with their level. It’s not going to happen.
Business is an evolution, not a revolution. Don’t look for a revolution. Look for an evolution. If you improve by 1% a week, then you’re going to be 67% better at the end of the year. Focus on that.
This is interesting here because I finished the book I was reading by Brian Tracy, the Focal Point, and he has a very interesting point. He gave a technique on how to improve yourself by 0.1% a day. If you do it, you will improve yourself by 26% every year and this is so easy. It’s not even 1%, it’s 0.1% a day. It’s an unnoticeable change.
This has been awesome, Victor. Your company’s Excess Logic, and can you tell me your YouTube channel or where can people find you if they want to get your wisdom?
The easiest way to find me is to go to the website, TheContributors.com. It will redirect you to my YouTube channel. You can find me on Facebook or LinkedIn. My name is pretty unique so there is not many Victor Gichun you can find online.
Victor, I enjoyed it. Check out TheContributors.com, where Victor is sharing his wisdom. You can get much more of what we got in this little short episode. Thank you, Victor, for coming, and stay tuned because we have two entrepreneurs a week coming on the show and sharing the blueprint.
Thank you so much. It was a pleasure talking to you and being on this show. Thank you.