Candid Conversations With Our FBA Sellers

A conversation with Brian Maples, founder of Big B Pro Sports

We sat down with Brian Maples, founder of Big B Pro Sports, to discuss his company’s sale to Forum Brands. Brian reflected on his journey from founder to seller and gave insight into why he chose to work with Forum Brands. We discussed everything from early lessons he learned selling on Amazon, to why he would work with Forum again, and all in between. 

Tell us a bit about your entrepreneur journey and the history of your company.

My entrepreneurial journey started out working at flea markets and selling sheets and pillows on the Facebook Marketplace, but I quickly realized I wasn’t going to make a lot of money playing that game. I then came across some YouTube videos that discussed the advantages of selling on Amazon. I started learning about the platform, found a mentor to teach me the basics, and read as much as I could about the process. That led me to launch some products. After failing a few times, I had learned enough to build Big B into what it is today. 

What were the biggest lessons you learned from your start on Amazon?

I really just needed more experience.  At first, I didn’t know how to properly position and advertise my brands and products. I had also picked challenging categories early on - pricing competition was fierce and it was difficult to keep up. But I learned quickly, became ultra-aggressive in my advertising, and shifted my strategy.  

Something else that was instrumental to my success with Big B specifically was the fact that I was selling a product I understood well. I am professionally trained in physical therapy and rehabilitation. Sports and sports medicine is an industry close to my heart and fits in well with my area of expertise.  If you were going to sell nursing equipment, you would want to meet with nurses to understand what they need.  Experience in the industry helps build credibility with customers and gives you insight into what consumers are looking for.  

How did you hear about Forum Brands?

I was consulting with an advisor for Big B, and he told me about Forum Brands and their interest in buying successful Amazon businesses. I had contemplated a sale, but wasn’t rushing to get a deal done at the time. This advisor couldn’t have been more complementary about the team at Forum, and in retrospect he had undersold them. Forum is deeply knowledgeable, extremely personable, and made my process really simple and easy throughout. 

What led you to sell? 

There were a few different factors. First, there were other projects that I wanted to get into. Secondly, working capital movements were becoming a challenge. Big B had grown so much that all of my profits had to go into keeping inventory in stock, because the demand was increasing so rapidly. It was a constant flywheel and difficult to keep up with. It’s hard to scale without adequate funding. I wanted someone that could take my business to another level, and recognized immediately that Forum had the skills and resources to do it. 

Was brand legacy important to you when deciding to sell?

Legacy was important for sure. When I created this business, there was some luck involved, but really it was consistent hard work to make the brand successful. Big B was actually my nickname as a kid and it’s where the brand name came from. It’s very cool to see my name out there as a brand that will continue to survive and thrive. I’ve put so much work and effort into Big B - it’s my baby. I want to see it do as well as it possibly can. I believe Forum is the right team to scale it to the next level. 

What made you choose Forum over other companies?

A few factors led me to choose Forum.  First, they were able to meet my expectations in terms of an attractive, flexible deal.  I personally was looking for more cash upfront versus deferred upside. I wanted to invest in other projects right away.  Another huge factor was the team. You have to have a good feeling about the people you’re selling to.  No one wants to deal with people who aren’t nice and humble. I was able to meet everyone and they were the real deal. They had the right experience in all aspects of the business. 

What was the selling experience/process with Forum Brands like?

Something that stands out to me about the process is the fact that Forum’s transparency and organization made it feel comfortable from the very beginning. It’s a ton of work to get everything together and prepare your business for a sale like this. They were especially helpful in dealing with all things related to shipping and inventory, and they guided me in gathering the data they needed. I wanted the people taking over my business to know what they were doing so I didn’t have to do too much hand holding down the road. Overall, the team definitely made this a seamless process. 

Forum also made me feel important. I knew Big B meant something to the Forum team, I wasn’t just a number to them. They made sure I was comfortable every step of the way, laying out timelines, letting me know what to expect, and listening to me in terms of what was important to me in the deal structure.

What’s next? Would you work with Forum again in the future? 

I’m excited to start a whole new business and move into other areas like luggage and office equipment.  Hopefully my new business grows as big, if not bigger, than the last one. Without a doubt, I’d go back to Forum with any future businesses. 

What should people consider when looking to sell their Amazon business? 

Make sure the team is excellent and full of experts that pay exceptional attention to detail. Forum is exactly that, and they stick to the timeline and get things done quickly. If you want a company that will grow your brand and take it beyond what you can do - Forum is the way to go.

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