Consumers in the digital age have come to expect a high level of customizability—we want products that are unique to us and hold meaning. Businesses also wish to create tailored experiences that resonate with their customers.
This was a dynamic Brian Rainey came to realize. “Consumer expectations continue to shift, really desiring personalized items while at the same time, retailers and brands need to be more innovative,” he says. “They need to connect on a more personal level.” But flexible manufacturing processes are key—no longer can companies fill warehouses with items that might never sell.
It was understanding the synergy of these dynamics that inspired Brian to start his company, Gooten, which helps businesses manage on-demand print services that are scalable, efficient, and affordable.
On this edition of UpTech Report, Brian discusses how the idea for Gooten first evolved from a front-end to back-end service, and he walks us through the complexities of managing a global network of on-demand suppliers.
More information: https://www.gooten.com/
Brian Rainey was named CEO of Gooten in January 2016. Rainey develops the company’s strategic vision and oversees all aspects of operations, including building the management team, financing, and global expansion. Rainey previously served as chief financial officer at Buzz Points, a fintech company, and held positions at Deutsche Bank and Deloitte, where he provided accounting and audit services to startups preparing for potential IPOs, private sales, or capital raises.show more
Rainey, a licensed C.P.A, received a bachelor’s degree in accounting and finance from James Madison University and an MBA from the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia.
Gooten is a globally distributed production and logistics company transforming the way online brands manufacture and fulfill merchandise to their customers. Gooten has forged a new print-on-demand model to serve high-growth online stores in unprecedented ways. We think of our customers as partners and treat each facet of our business accordingly—from letting your voice be heard through our Partner Advisory Committee to layering in operational mechanisms that maximize your business economics, while boasting industry-leading product quality.
Every aspect has been thought through with our partners and their end customers in mind, tapping into incredible efficiencies and smart technologies that deliver results.show less
DISCLAIMER: Below is an AI generated transcript. There could be a few typos but it should be at least 90% accurate. Watch video or listen to the podcast for the full experience!
Brian Rainey 0:00
consumer expectations continue to shift really desiring personalized items while at the same time, retailers and brands need to be more innovative and need to connect on a more personal level.
Alexander Ferguson 0:18
Welcome, everyone to UpTech Report AR apply tech series UpTech Report is sponsored by terror late learn how to leverage the power of video at teraleap.io. Today, I am joined very excited by Brian Rainey was based in New York City, and is the CEO of Gooten. Welcome, Ryan. How are you? Great, awesome. excited to have you, man. Now your product is a custom print fulfillment service platform. If for those out there who are engineers, Logistics specialists, and E commerce or closure developers? Yes, exactly.
Brian Rainey 0:48
If you are a closure developer, please reach out. We are searching for all the closure developer help that we can get? That’s right,
Alexander Ferguson 0:57
then this is definitely one of something check out. Now on your site, you say Gooten helps you source the right products at the right price for your growing e commerce business. Tell me what problem did you guys set out to solve? And how has this changed over the years?
Brian Rainey 1:12
Yeah, we actually started as a company really developing solutions for the photo industry, right? By definition photography is is incredibly personalized. Every photograph is different. And as photographs migrated from traditional cameras and film based solutions to to mobile phones, you know, people still wanted the tactile feel of that. And we really set up a large amount of front end solutions. But what we found was the real value was in the back end connections and our ability to run an order management system that looked across a no inventory solution that has grown by leaps and bounds over the past especially the past five years since we’ve been in business. And we really narrowed in on that the consumer expectations continue to shift really desiring personalized items while at the same time, retailers and brands need to be more innovative and need to connect on a more personal level. while also recognizing that industries need to become more sustainable, we can’t produce millions of items and just just scrap the ones that don’t ultimately get sold. The on demand manufacturing industry solves a lot of these underlying issues, you allow for mass customization and personalization, while really only producing those items that are ultimately going to end up with an end customer. But there are a lot of challenges. There are multiple end products that are related to this that are very different merchandise is different than fashion and apparel is different than home decor and home goods. And on the manufacturing side. specialization is the key here, there’s very different technologies that go into producing these items. And so to do this, from a, from an online retailer or online brand perspective, you need to have multiple relationships, multiple integrations, multiple touch points, that really increases the overhead of bringing in what is otherwise an industry that allows for lower investment. Because you’re not buying products in front of front, you’ve got a much lower sort of barrier to test items out. And with those multiple integrations, there’s also issues around transparency and single point of failure risk you now with a single integration, if that item doesn’t get delivered to your customer that’s on you as a brand. So those were really the problems that we saw as we moved into this industry. And as we started to really expand our tailored supply chain solution out from our sort of foundation in the photo industry.
Alexander Ferguson 3:36
Now the kind of where you settled on the type of folks that you’re helping, I feel like it is both those who have shops on Etsy or Shopify that given integrations to be able to help with that whole fulfillment, but also on larger enterprise businesses that are trying to do custom fulfillments. It’s those the two places that you play a role.
Brian Rainey 3:58
That’s right, I think I think those are not mutually exclusive. I mean, I think what we’ve seen and this is credit to those platforms, Etsy and Shopify are now very legitimate enterprise platforms, which do a great job of providing a similar sort of service that Putin is providing we provide a tailored supply chain solution Shopify provides best in class E commerce platform, big commerce, supplies a best in class, e commerce platform, Etsy provides a marketplace of sort of tailored and personalized goods. So we’ve seen the sort of size of the average partner on those platforms really increase over the past few years. But that’s exactly right. We are focused much more on an enterprise style platform if you’re if you’re selling multiple items a day when when you get to sort of 60 items a month or multiple items a day. You’re really running a business at that point and tailored supply chain solutions that allow for the leveraging of a global network of production partners and giving you much more focus on going back and focusing on those items that connect with your customer. That’s where The gluten platform really excels. It’s, it’s professionalizing for for retailers and for enterprises, the sort of on demand supply chain solution so that they can really focus on driving conversion rate and traffic and connecting with their customers.
Alexander Ferguson 5:16
I’m just like, looking at your site here, time for gluten or not time for good. I like that I break down. It’s like, do I really need this? It’s like my current suppliers, I can’t produce enough. I’m managing too many suppliers, developing API’s? So it’s basically when it starts to get really complex and all the integrations you play a role in and taking on like, what’s what’s the area, you start helping and where and where do you leave off helping?
Brian Rainey 5:42
Right. And I think that’s, that’s a really good way to sort of think through it. Because the way we’ve thought about this is we’ve really developed sort of start to finish solution around implementing or transitioning businesses on to on demand manufacturing, and and it starts with our partner solutions team. They come in at the beginning, and really walk businesses through the kind of upstart and optimization of what you’re doing, not only on kind of an account and business level, but then ultimately, with our order management system on an order by order basis, sourcing the right products, integrating the solution in the right way, whether that is a direct integration through one of our our existing platforms, everything is built on the back of our API, we really have seen the flexibility the API presents for enterprises is one of the most important pieces for us all the way to launching your platform, right? The success of this goes all the way through launch, our partner solutions team really drives that. And then we get into the day to day operations, right? How do we handle ongoing order volumes? How do we handle the underlying transparency that our order management system and tracking solution provides? How do we enable multiple manufacturers not just single manufacturers to produce orders so that you have faster ship times by routing orders to the West Coast, they’re going to be shipped to West Coast customers or to the east coast or to Europe a single solution for a global network, to fulfillment to shipping, right, that’s where the prime kind of once were launched, that’s where it is financing billing and invoicing support. Also, there’s a single bill that comes through there’s a single item, excuse me to to reconcile what you’re doing rather than dealing with multiple manufacturing partners, rather, with dealing with multiple issues and simplifying a group. That’s exactly right. And then it you know, it closes back out with our partner support and Partner Solutions team, we have 18 hours a day, seven day a week partner support so that when issues do arise when inevitable issues do arise where there so it’s, it is a start to finish solution so that our partners, and our merch, our online merchant partners can really focus on kind of driving that in customer value.
Alexander Ferguson 7:50
It’s both a platform button as well as a managed service because you’re not just like leaving them by themselves, right?
Brian Rainey 7:55
That’s exactly right, do we really think about it kind of similar to the way Azure AWS provides a whole scale server solution where they really talk through how the best way to implement a sort of multi part solution that allows for scaling up and scaling down of something as it’s necessary, we think about that in the same way within the on demand supply chain solution that Google provides.
Alexander Ferguson 8:18
Now this, this concept of manage, manage SAS or SaaS with service, writing is a growing trend because the technology is great, but you need a what people really want a need is a service that completes the last mile or like it really gets you all the way
Brian Rainey 8:36
we talk. We talk about it as a business partnership. And we really think about it that way our merchants are our partners, their success is our success. We don’t monetize unless items get sold. It’s it’s truly an on demand system. If you never sell something with a gluten solution, we don’t actually make money. So our Merchant partners success is our success. At the same time, our manufacturing partners, we also consider partners because we’re cutting down the order processing time we’re cutting down account management time, we’re optimizing the image generation so that when an item when an order comes through, it’s perfectly formatted exactly for the product and substrate, then it’s going to be going on, which creates even more of a flywheel effect as far as better service, better production, better quality, better consistency for all parts of that of that partnership,
Alexander Ferguson 9:24
to give a picture of how you play a role and where you play a role. Can you give a use case a case study of one of your clients if like how they have integrated use you from be from beginning to end?
Brian Rainey 9:37
Sure. And a really, really strong one is one live media which is a merchandising and brand partnership for primarily musicians and sports teams. So they have 1300, partnerships and licensees with musicians where the each each brand has a unique need. lot of them sell apparel, but they’re sort of obvious extensions of product catalog with 150. Different products can now be provided across 1300 Different licensees so that they pick the solutions that make the most sense for them. Our multi multi account enterprise solution allows one life to provide each one of their 1300 effectively brands to see exactly what’s going on in their store to manage that store from themselves, while one live gets an umbrella picture over all of those items through a single interface. At the same time, the fact that we have a Shopify integration means each one of those is the integration is as easy as, as a one click installation. So our ability then to manage on behalf of each one of those brands, the launch of different products, the enablement of new product and new products successes, as as they make sense for each one of the brands, while also having a solution that works for, you know, European customers and US customers and global customers is incredibly important as you start to look at the breadth of what what can be enabled there, with a single point of contact into Gooten. For the one life team, when things when questions come up. When integration opportunities come up when partnerships opportunities come up. That’s one of the best ways that we really look at sort of enterprise commerce enablement is that multi part solution, or where our API is utilized as the platform to enable this out into, you know, a group of of streaming partners or licensees?
Alexander Ferguson 11:32
That’s right, I see technology playing a great role is when it gets so complex with so many moving parts, that that’s where technology is best used for that today. So dive a little bit deeper into the technology itself. Is there anything shared so maybe something you’re really excited about a new feature that came out this year you guys are working on? That kind of makes you stand out? Or people are saying, Oh, this I love this?
Brian Rainey 11:55
Yeah, I think one of the things that we’re most excited about is and we talked about this all the time on demand is complementary to legacy production methods, right? If you have a single product that you sell 500 of every single month continue to ball produce, right, there’s still a point by which storage costs and inventory costs are still you know, with the unit economic savings on bulk production really does make sense, so complementing, and have long run niche products with with your traditional area there, on demand can add on to that on demand can increase the average cart value, I think what we’re most excited about is looking at the ways in which our system can actually dynamically change the production method, not just dynamically route an item to be produced in a different location or a different area. So if over a three hour period, for example, and Instagram post goes up for one of our, for one of the bands that can really drive a huge amount of value out of an Instagram post, our system is going to ultimately be able to capture those orders and reroute them to go to a bulk order production method, automatically lowering that kind of underlying price while still shipping each item out directly to the customer. So we’re now enabling the best of both worlds in that in that circumstance, which is bulk production savings, while not taking on inventory and fulfillment and duplicate shipping costs, we’re going to be we’ve been alpha testing that this year, we’re going to be rolling that out much more broadly next year. That is really what a lot of our enterprise partners have been saying, which is, look, this is a fantastic on demand solution that’s working with what I already have, how can you start bringing in even more of my, my supply chain solutions into the single OMS? That gives me complete insight across all of my properties into where all of my orders are going?
Alexander Ferguson 13:47
Does that all happen? Effectively in real time automatically for it to shift? Or do they have
Brian Rainey 13:51
real good, real time real time automatically our system takes that on again, that goes back to our partner solutions team works with the partners that we have on we have about five partners that are utilizing technology right now to set those rules. How long do you want to wait, we have websites that do a once a day sale, for example. So we hold those orders for 24 hours, if they sell 25 of those items, they’re going to go on demand each and they’re going to get shipped out if they sell 300. If it’s a very popular item, we’re going to produce them in bulk we’re going to give pass along those cost savings. And they’re still going to go out to the end and customer. So it really is about understanding that solution that’s needed for that end partner. And continuing to expand that underlying network so that we’re taking in the best of both production with the best of on demand production with the best of personalized production because again, they’re complementary, and they make sense, depending on the sort of use case for each one of our Merchant partners.
Alexander Ferguson 14:45
I’m excited to hear where you guys are headed and obviously it’s it’s been into this involvement over this time. Part two of our interview definitely stick around those. Want to hear more about the lessons learned that Brian has but to give a taste here. You became CEO about five years years ago. Well, what’s one thing you had known five years ago that you wish that you know now you wish you’d known then?
Brian Rainey 15:09
That’s that’s a loaded question. No doubt. Look, I think it’s a difficult question only because we are where we’re at today because of five years of failures, right? We, we celebrate failure at Gooten. Because through failure, we learn what works and what doesn’t we understand where it is, when you’re fundamentally pushing an industry to a place where it frankly, is uncomfortable, right. uncomfort is something that we have to be very comfortable with. We do have to figure out where that is, I think the laser focus on the single product solution, right when when I took over as CEO of the company, we were trying to be all things to all people. And as the saying goes, if you’re all things to all people, you’re nothing to no one right. And immediately we narrow that focus to really drive a solution that we thought made sense. We could have been even more narrow focus, we could have been even more laser focused, deliver a single value proposition to a single partner and then build out from that. I think that’s probably what I would say. But again, I think it’s a little bit disingenuous, because because there’s been so much that we’ve learned in an industry that frankly, has changed as much as in five years, as we have, you know, we talked to our team all the time, we could we could do everything perfectly right? The on demand manufacturing, mass customization, mass personalization industry is changing as fast as we can keep up with it. And that’s another reason that that that technology and specialization bringing in an expert in the industry in the same way that distributed servers and distributed logistics are changing just as fast. Having a partner that lives and breathes this every single day, we think is incredibly important. So that’s probably what I’d say.
Alexander Ferguson 16:54
Well, we’ll that will dive deeper into that in our second part of our interview. So stick around for that, though, curious, for those who are involved, whether those engineers logistics, or anyone working on an E commerce solution and are curious about this type of stuff. If you had a word of wisdom for them about their role, maybe it’s not even agnostic from from, from your solution, just a word of wisdom, what would you share with?
Brian Rainey 17:17
I think my biggest piece is because as people come in understand what’s going on with the industry, it really, the breadth is so significant that it’s all it seems like an either or it seems like it’s so different from what was that you need to make this choice to go all in on demand is complementary to other commerce strategies. As I was saying, it’s, it’s the idea of allowing for real time customization and testing within a physical product set, it doesn’t need to then immediately replace and scrap what was before. At the same time, if you’re not doing it, you’re starting to get passed by right. So there’s this idea of it, you know, merchant partners, especially now have to introduce innovation and flexibility into their product set into how they connect to their consumers into the way that they connect the idea of you know, that the sort of 360 degree brand, right, you have to have commerce, you have to have content, you have to have social you, you have to kind of be in all of these places on demand is one of the ways to be able to get there. But I think don’t be don’t be put off or don’t be scared off by kind of the Brett, when you start understanding. It’s almost like this industry just snuck up on people. Were the people in the industry have been seeing this for years coming. You know, they’re really, yeah, exactly. Really, you know, understand that use case, focus on the end customer, and then look at how on demand can complement what’s happening. After that, that’s where, whether it’s the gluten solution, or whether it’s your existing production logistics department, or whether it’s your existing operations department, that’s where you can start coming in and looking at your legacy solutions and saying, Where does on demand actually best replace certain things that we’re doing? Where does it complement things? Where does it make sense to really start to create a, you know, as I said, a tailored supply chain solution that is not one size fits all, even where for some partners on demand is 100% of their business? And it makes a lot of sense for them.
Alexander Ferguson 19:18
Where what can you share your roadmap of where you guys are headed? Maybe the next few years, five years? What can you share, but
Brian Rainey 19:26
we got I think it’s continuing to push best in class technology and expectations. I mean, the the Gooten platform is a software and technology platform, but fundamentally it is connected into physical fulfillment and physical logistics. One of the things that I think you’re really going to continue to see from Putin is not just best in class technology, integrations and updates so more ecommerce platforms, more merchandising platforms, the ability to publish out to Amazon and Walmart and eBay right the ability to be everywhere your end customer is With a single solution, you’re definitely going to see that on the merchant side. But I think from a manufacturing optimization standpoint, bringing an implementing best in class solutions, whether it’s customization of packaging, or customization of inserts, or, you know, really expanding out that network so that there is no solution from what gluten is offering that is going to be that an individual manufacturing partner that an individual solution can be realized that’s better, because we can always take the best of and then start pushing that forward. So that what best in class manufacturers may have today, we start to make ubiquitous over the next three to five years by really lifting up and adding that specialization that technology and sort of depth of service can provide.
Alexander Ferguson 20:47
I appreciate you taking us through the value of gluten and the kind of where you’re playing a role and the words of wisdom for those out there involved in this. For those who want to learn more, you can check out their website. It’s Gooten.com. That’s gotn.com. Thanks for your time, Brian, really appreciate it.
Brian Rainey 21:04
Absolutely, really appreciate it. And and again, closure developers give me a call, please. We’d love to have you as part of our team.
Alexander Ferguson 21:12
I love it. I love it. Again, this is our ply tech series. Stay around stick in tuned for part two of our interview where we’re going to dive a little bit deeper into Brian’s story and those lessons learned. I feel like there’s a lot there. I’ll see you guys next time. That concludes the audio version of this episode. To see the original and more visit our UpTech Report YouTube channel. If you know a tech company, we should interview you can nominate them at UpTech report.com. Or if you just prefer to listen, make sure you’re subscribed to this series on Apple podcasts, Spotify or your favorite podcasting app.