‘Poker N stuff’ is an all in one paradise for poker and card games enthusiasts, a company that provides an online market for poker tables, poker chips and other poker accessories. They have grown both in business and reach since their inception and have successfully survived the lull of recession. Poker and stuff provides as much as 400 products related to poker. After enjoying all the highs and subsisting all the lows, Poker and stuff has emerged as a market leader bringing people closer to a wholesome poker play experience.
In an interview with Mr. Ryan Tien, Purchasing Manager, Poker N Stuff talks about his company, the motivation behind his business and his success mantra.
Kindly give our readers an introduction to your business.
Poker N Stuff was founded in 2004 by current president and CEO of the company Jules Lee. We are located at 801 S. Dupont Ave # A Ontario, CA 91761 USA. We do business as a distributor of poker supplies and we also have a website PokerNStuff.com where consumers can browse through a large online catalog of casino equipment such as poker tables, poker chips and other poker accessories. Our business model is to always keep our clients happy. Whether it is offering huge discounted sales to repeat customers, or taking care of a problem to our customer’s satisfaction. Our main goal is to provide excellent service and improve our products year over year so that our customers and poker enthusiasts can have a good experience playing card games at home.
Kindly give us a brief description about yourself.
My name is Ryan Tien, Purchasing Manager at iBuy Source, Inc. dba Poker N Stuff. I studied at a community college for 2 years before transferring to UCLA. However, due to the popular demand for poker supplies in 2004, I found myself entering into the business world before finishing school. I’m glad it was the right decision for me because our company has transformed from having only 2 product lines, to now over 400 products for our domestic customers.
What ignited the spark in you to start a new business venture? How did the idea for your business come about?
Poker N Stuff was started when the poker craze was happening in 2003. My hobby was playing Texas Hold em Limit Poker at that time. While at the casino playing poker, I noticed a huge increase of players playing No Limit Hold em Poker. That is where I got the idea from. I then did my research on the internet and contacted a few manufacturers to produce poker chips and other poker supplies so I can sell them. I then created a website and launched it in 2004. The business was a success, a huge increase of players were buying poker chips to play at home. We have been in business ever since 2004. This business reach its peak in 2005 and currently have slowed down a little due to our Country’s recession in 2009.
How important have good employees been to your success?
I believe employees have a big impact on a company’s success or failure. It will be the Human Resources job to find good qualifying employees for the job. Also, it is the President of the company’s job to provide a good work place for the employees to work at and also provide great benefits for your top employees to stay employed at your business. At Poker N Stuff, we look for the employees who are motivated and provide them with bonuses, incentives and yearly raise to keep them around. We have had bad employees over the course of our 7 years in the marketplace. So it really boils down to how you want to handle the situation, and I think our CEO, Jules Lee has done a good job at keeping the right employees at our workplace.
What three pieces of advice would you give to college students who want to become entrepreneurs?
For anybody who wants to start their own business and to be an entrepreneur is to work hard during your college years. Take classes on how to start a business, intern or find a job similar to your niche, and work and save up money to start your business. Starting a business requires a lot of capital and hard work in the first year. But after you get well acquainted with how the business operates, the job becomes easier and you can train employees to do your work so that you can focus on another project. That is what entrepreneurs do, to work as little as possible so that you can have the passive income and to have time to start up another project.
If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
I would definitely be more organized. Many companies fail, or close down after 2 years because they don’t have the experience to run a good business, or they make the wrong purchases and run out of cash flow. Another thing is to watch out for fraudulent orders. This has happened to our company a few times, which in turn dropped our cash flow and running a business with a low cash flow would be hard. So I would definitely watch out for fraudulent companies and visit them before making a large purchase.
What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
Becoming an entrepreneur requires a lot of hard work and brainstorming. To become good at becoming your own boss, you should be a person with high flexibility, good decision maker and know the products you want to sell. A person with high flexibility skills can multi-task, while being a good decision maker usually will put your business in a good position to excel. Finally, you must know your niche. Knowing the products you are selling is what sets you apart from companies that fail because they do not know their products well enough to market it.
How long do you stick with an idea before giving up?
When I find new ideas or products, I would act quickly and do research to see which avenue to take for marketing the product. If the return on investment is low, I would simply sell off the product at a loss and move on to the next product. This way, you will not have a huge inventory piled up and not have any cash flow for any new chances that may come available.
How many hours do you work a day on average?
My work hours really depend on the season as we sell a lot of seasonal products. Normally, I would work 4 hours in the office, 3 times a week, and then work from home. That is the advantage of being your own boss.
How has being an entrepreneur affected your family life?
Being an entrepreneur gives you a lot of flexibility. It has given me the opportunity to work whenever I want and not worrying about getting fired. But you have to keep up with the economy as it has been changing at a very fast pace over the last decade.
What motivates you?
The thing that drives me is my wife. She is everything to me and much more. Whenever I start to become a little lazy, she gives me the right types of reason to keep me motivated into working more and learning new things to make the business successful. If you’re not motivated in what you are doing, you should move on to something you enjoy doing. Because work should be your hobby and you should be enjoying doing it. If you don’t enjoy your work, it will definitely affect your personal life as well.
How do you generate new ideas?
I spend probably half of my life on a computer. Most of the time on my computer, I would just sit in front of my monitor and doze off. While being in that state of mind, my brain would start to think about the future and about what people really want. Ideas then start to fill my head and I would have a notepad open on my computer screen and type them down. I tend to forget quickly about new ideas, so the best way is to keep a diary or at least a sketch book around to jot down ideas.
What is your greatest fear, and how do you manage fear?
I don’t think I fear anything in life. You have to look at it like you’re a part of this world. If you fear about taking risk, then go find a job that is stable. But if you really want to become a successful entrepreneur and be financially free, you would have to take risk and not fear any obstacle.
How do you define success?
Success is making ends meet. Once you have started a company and the company provides for your family, then that is a success.
What is the best way to achieve long-term success?
Long term success comes with preparation. You have to be prepared and organized when your business is started. Draw out a business plan and find out who is the good employees and get rid of the ones that keeps your company from growing.
Where did your organization’s funding/capital come from and how did you go about getting it? How did you obtain investors for your venture?
We started with a base capital of $5,000. That was just enough to import a small amount of poker chips to start our poker supplying business.
How do you build a successful customer base?
To keep repeat customers, you must have a good marketing team. Marketing such as email campaigns will keep your customers up to date with your current products and promotions. Building a customer base takes time. Always have a place on your website for new customers to join your mailing list. This will keep you connected with your customers. Also, just recently, social-media marketing has become a huge success. Companies such as Facebook and Twitter has connected many people around the whole world. So having a social-media marketing manager is really important for the years to come.
How did you decide on the location for your business?
Since our inception of Poker N Stuff in 2004, we have grown from a 2000 sq ft warehouse into a 18,000 sq ft warehouse. We have moved 3 times and believe me, moving is not the best thing to do for your business. You may lose some local customers and the cost of moving could lower your cash flow as well. But the main thing to decide where to lease a place for your business is commuting. I would look at which direction where there are a lot of traffic in the mornings and choose a location that is the opposite from my house. That way, I can have more time working on new projects rather than spending all my time driving in traffic.
If you could talk to one person from history, who would it be and why?
If I can speak to one successful entrepreneur, I would like to talk with Donald Trump. I have read his books, watched his television shows and I can see that he is truly a business man. He can make money without any money to begin with. Now that is a smart business man.
Who has been your greatest inspiration?
The person who inspires me most is my wife. She keeps me motivated at all times and that is a good person to have around.
What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
The best part of being an entrepreneur is having the flexibility to work the hours you want. This gives you time to spend with your kids and also gives you a raise whenever you need the extra cash at home.
How do you go about marketing your business? What has been your most successful form of marketing?
Marketing and Human Resources are the two most important positions in your own venture. With a good Human Resource team, you will find the right employees to do the job well. But I think the more important thing is marketing. You will definitely need a good marketing campaign to sell your products. You can have the best products in the world, but without a good marketing campaign, nobody will be able to find your products for sale.