If I had to single out the key to success in the business world, a great starting point for you and your potential partners to thrive in the most competitive of worlds, that key would be to make sure you find people that complement your skill set. Avoid surrounding yourself with people that share your abilities and you will build a company that has less flaws. When I created Alpha Rock Capital I knew that, by doing business with Vedast Sanxis, I was heading towards a worry-free professional life. A career of success for both of us.
Alpha Rock Capital is, thus, the framework to see this realization of what will transpire working with Vedast. But let me tell you how I got here.
It all started in Andorra, a small state in the Pyrenees, landlocked between Spain and France.
I was attending a school run by nuns and it was already there that my entrepreneur spirit was awoken. I would start several endeavours to make some cash. The most profitable of all of them was also my first look at the Internet as a potential tool for business success.
My father was one of the few people who had access to the Internet in my environment, so I would print cheat sheets from different video games I would find online, and sell them to my eager classmates. I was leveraging the early adoption of technology by my father and satisfying a very relevant need, the need for kids to play.
As one would guess, my start-up company didn’t go unnoticed. I was so successful that I would almost always have a couple thousand Spanish pesetas (around €20) in my pockets. Nuns would soon call my father and ask him how come a 10-year old kid was walking about carrying so much money. My dad had absolutely no idea what was going on.
My First Working Experience
At age 14, I left my mother’s place and moved to my father’s. The change of school would put me through a very tough time, a time that would shape my character. I was suffering bullying and it became so unbearable that I decided to quit the school and finish my mandatory education on my own.
With my mandatory education successfully finished, I would enroll in a new high school, but I would quit it before I finished it as I turned 18. I was ready to start working. I had a position in an Andorran hotel’s kitchen for half a year before I moved to Barcelona.
That summer, I started working night shift in a printing factory. Two months there were more than enough to understand I was not built to do that. There was no satisfaction in doing this. I wanted my mind to be in charge of the money I earned, not my body. And, if possible, I didn’t want to have a boss telling me what to do, whether it made sense or not.
Discovering the World of E-Commerce
Naturally, I bumped into the world of e-commerce, a world that had way more appeal to me than a factory could ever provide. The year was 2007, and I had been quite interested in trading card games, like Magic the Gathering. In fact, I had met Vedast playing an international Magic tournament in Barcelona at age 12. So I started a World of Warcraft TCG store.
Having an online store was a much bigger of a deal back then. These were not the days of professional WordPress plugins and tools like Shopify. I had to do most of it from scratch. The site was coded using PrestaShop, an open-source e-commerce solution that was, at the time, quite rudimentary.
There was no connection to APIs available and I had to manually upload every single card in my stock. It was a tedious task, but it was my business. I was in charge of everything and I could do things my way. I was responsible for the success or failure.
It was a few years later when I also managed to strike a deal with a jewel store regarding their out-of-stock catalogue. They gave me the opportunity to sell the luxury items that were out of season at a discount price and to keep a 20% from the selling price. The jewelry store would get some money for items that were otherwise worthless, and I had a stock that I wouldn’t have been able to acquire in another way.
Udealstore, an eBay based store, was born this way. And through the following years, it would end up selling luxury goods to over one thousand customers in more than twenty different countries. The standards were high and I learnt quite a bit on topics like marketing, accounting and customer service. It’s fun to think that one of our customers’ addresses was simply “Villa 17, Dubai”.
A Career in Online Poker
It was the end of the decade when I discovered the world of online poker and reconnected with Vedast. These were the golden days of online poker in Spain. The Great Recession had brought a lot of fresh fish to the online poker tables and a new online poker school, run by some of the best players in the country, had just opened their doors.
I deposited €100 in Unibet in October 2009 via EducaPoker -the poker school- and started playing No-Limit Texas Hold’em with a maximum starting stack of €10 (NL10). By January 2010 I was already playing in the NL100 tables, following the school’s short-stack strategy. The strategy was easy to follow if you were disciplined and the results were fascinating. My earnings were piling up.
That month I made around €5,000 profit. I had never made this much money in my life and consequently online poker became my career and pretty much my life for the following years. I would play short-stack No-Limit Hold’em and Sit & Gos until 2014.
The Digital Nomad Life
With poker, my nomadic life was also started. In a matter of a few years, I would travel all over the world and lived in a handful of countries, while I also saw the world of online poker go through its biggest struggles in its brief history.
In April 2011, while I was in South Korea, what is now known as online poker’s Black Friday changed forever the profitability of online gambling. The three biggest online poker card rooms, PokerStars, Full Tilt and Absolute Poker had their operations in the USA terminated. Things would never fully recover.
After a brief stint in Thailand, the poker regulation in Spain that came in June 2012 would force me to continue moving about. The goal was to find a place where I would both enjoy living in and that had a healthy poker ecosystem.
A month in Portugal, a couple of weeks in England, a brief visit to Vietnam, nowhere really felt like home until I made it to a poker house in Cebu City, Philippines. That was my first contact with the country I now live in and where my partners and I run Alpha Rock Capital from. I was not going to settle in the Philippines this time. I still had more travelling to do and a bit more poker to play.
The End of Poker
Not that much more though, since I would stop playing poker by the end of 2014. I was playing to maintain the Supernova Elite status on PokerStars. This was the highest possible rank in that card room and gave a lot of advantages, particularly a huge return of the commission paid to play.
But it was extremely time consuming and stressing. And it made evident my main worry regarding an online poker career. The skills that you acquire, though relevant, don’t make for a flashy curriculum. The time for me to leave poker behind and resume my studies had arrived, and I was looking forward to making the most out of it.
A Time of Learning
In 2015 I took the university entrance exams for students over 25. I had just quit poker and I couldn’t even find a job as a dishwasher. It was clear to me, thus, that I had to study something that would put me in a good position moving forward.
I joined what was considered the hardest International Business Economics degree in Spain and after a while I moved on to the newly created Global Studies course. My lessons were a mixture of international relationships and history, and they truly gave me great insight.
I was adding more discipline to my skill set, something I had already trained playing poker, but I was also improving my understanding of the world and the mindset of people who pursue formal education with the idea to follow a corporate life.
From October 2016 to February 2017, I embarked a journey of self-improvement that kept me the busiest I had ever been. I would go to the gym six days a week, continue my university degree, and I joined a €6,000 coding bootcamp that taught me data analytics, machine learning, R and Python.
My studies led me to the realization that the Spanish Elite, the top percentile of the population that makes over €100,000 per year, was not that different from myself. That there was no limit in life for me as long as I leveraged the people I worked with, making sure they have complementary skills to mine. I also understood I need to have good ideas that are going to make money and the capacity to present them in a way that makes wealthy people trust me with their money.
And was probably this realization that brought me to the opening thought of this text: working hand-in-hand with Vedast Sanxis would eventually but definitely lead to success. And he had wanted us to move to the Philippines.
My First Take on Investing
My family had €100,000 from the sale of some real state we had. Vedast had helped me learn about stock market investing during our poker days by giving me reading material and strategies. I followed his advice and averaged a 17% yearly return over the next 8 years.
So, following Vedast’s suggestion, we moved to the Philippines in the summer of 2017 and started focusing our strengths and time in investment strategies. We would spend most of our day discussing them and applying those that seemed more profitable.
One of these strategies involved crypto currency, where I would make more than $50,000 profit with an initial investment of $18,000. We were learning more and more about the world of investing and how having money helps us make more money, but we hadn’t found yet our holy grail, an opportunity that would consistently give us great returns, and I was sure studying wouldn’t take me there either. We wanted something that, at low risk, would give us a considerable return.
When you are on the lookout for something, your senses become more aware of that particular thing. So it was no surprise that it was then that I heard of Amazon Businesses.
Amazon Stores, and the Foundation of Alpha Rock Capital
Around March 2018 was when I first heard of the possibility to buy Amazon Stores and it was a lucky coincidence that the CEO of a company focused on helping those acquisitions also lived in Manila. By May 9th 2018 we would buy our first Fulfillment By Amazon business, splitting the $64,000 plus inventory cost with Vedast, he talked about this in his presentation article. My liquidity at the time was around the cost of the acquisition and having Vedast on board seemed the smartest choice in many ways. It also meant reducing risk on our investment, and we knew already how essential that is a successful career.
The business was making around $2,500 profit per month, and we managed to increase that amount relatively quickly to $4,000. At the time it was just me managing it. Vedast had only invested money, I was doing the work and keeping a part of the profits as my salary.
In July 2018 we decided to buy a second business. It was a considerably bigger investment, with a cost of $260,000, but it was very apparent to us that this could be a homerun since it was already averaging $10,000 profit per month.
To see the purchase through turned out to be difficult, since it implied getting all the liquid I had to invest in my half of the business and the situation for Vedast was similar, since he had to liquidate some of his stock investments. But it was crystal clear to me that this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I managed to convince my partner of that.
Almost two years later, time has thankfully proved me right, since that business has become the cornerstone asset of Alpha Rock Capital. And it’s continuing to prove profitable even through the pandemic.
Our first partner joins the team
By the end of 2018, it had become so apparent that this was a very profitable investment, that Vedast decided to focus more on it and we started looking for more businesses to buy. David Abusiewiez would soon join the team and become a partner after meeting him in a conference.
That very conference had the ex-CEO of a company talk about the relevance of awareness to what your strengths and weaknesses are and, in his case, why he decided to hire a CEO and step out of that role because the profile of that CEO was a better fit to what the company needed at the time.
That is something I can proudly say we have done at Alpha Rock Capital. With Vedast taking care of finances and legal and me taking care of the business side of the company, we have surrounded ourselves with partners and employees that offer a varied skill set with a common drive that is really setting a strong foundation for growing success.
Do you want to be a part of Alpha Rock Capital in any way? Please leave us a message via the form in the Contact Us section, let’s enter the new era of investing together.