Beyond the Docket: Mario Simonyan
Alt Legal Team | January 30, 2020
Welcome back to Beyond the Docket! This time we are back to interview Mario Simonyan of ESQgo. Simonyan is a business attorney and former owner of an Amazon Private Label company. We talk about how he got started selling on Amazon and how he uses that experience to help his clients now.
Tell us a bit about your legal practice. What type of work do you focus on?
I founded ESQgo approximately two years ago, and we primarily help Amazon third-party brands. As a result, we focus on two primary areas of law: Intellectual Property and legal services related to Amazon third-party brands/sellers (aka “Amazon Law”).
You have developed an impressive trademark portfolio very quickly. How do you market your services and get new clients?
While I can tell you that colleagues should use Google and Facebook ads or seek “strategic partnerships,” the secret is RELATIONSHIPS. I am a firm believer in relationships, and fortunately I am pretty good at cultivating and nurturing them.
We have clients from all over the world, and I have only met a handful of them face-to-face, so I try to speak to every client at least once via telephone. My conversations with clients go beyond their immediate legal needs: I try to understand why they created their businesses and their visceral legal fears. As attorneys, we sometimes want to drill down and perform a mental IRAC of the client’s case, but what most clients need is someone who will listen to and care about their situation. Any competent attorney can remedy a legal issue, but an attorney who truly cares about their client will have high client retention rates and referrals.
How do you delegate tasks at your firm? Do you have any suggestions for effective task delegation?
We use Trello to delegate tasks and monitor the progress. I have a weekly meeting with each of my staff members to review the progress of their tasks and answer any questions they have encountered during the week.
Furthermore, I have learned that it is crucial to “delegate up” – meaning delegating tasks where I lack the requisite skill to someone who is more of an expert. For example, marketing is not my strong suit, so we hired an agency to manage our Google PPC account, a marketing coordinator to effectively run our social media accounts, and an SEO expert to optimize our blog and website.
You have an extensive and impressive background creating and selling Amazon Private Label brands. What were the products, and how did you get involved with them?
I started selling on Amazon while in my second year of law school; like most law students I was struggling financially but unable to maintain a 9-5 job due to my studies. After researching some “work at home” opportunities, I came across a YouTube video by a gentleman named Ryan Moran about selling on Amazon. Initially, it felt like a scam, but after further investigation, I was ready to proceed.
After selling my textbooks and some of my electronics, I placed an order from a Chinese supplier for kitchen products – 1,500 units to be exact. In a matter of weeks after receiving the order, I had sold all of the units at a healthy profit. So I ordered more units and expanded my product selection to other home and kitchen products. The products would arrive from China to my San Diego apartment, and I would ship to Amazon’s warehouse for distribution. Soon I was carrying out shipping boxes from my one-bedroom apartment to the nearest UPS store, while my classmates were carrying their CivPro and Criminal law books to the school library.
After graduating from law school, I continued to build the business and added a second brand. The brands were successful; however, I was not personally fulfilled, so when I received an offer to exit, I saw it as an opportunity to start my own law firm – and that was the birth of ESQgo.
Given your background on Amazon, you are now a specialist with law related to Amazon sellers, including reinstating accounts, defending those whose accounts have been hijacked, etc. What is the most interesting Amazon case you’ve participated in? What was the outcome?
When it comes to Amazon, I am reminded of the quote “the questions have stayed the same, but the answers have changed.” The strategies we implemented and recommended to Amazon brands six-months ago are no longer effective. For better or worse, this places a burden on attorneys in this space to continually learn and adapt.
While we have helped hundreds of Amazon brands, one of my most memorable clients was a small Amazon seller who received from a very litigious Fortune 500 company a demand letter for over $6,000,000 for trademark infringement. The classic story of David versus Goliath.
While working on this matter, I got to know the client and his personal situation, which resulted in some sleepless nights for me since I was overly concerned about the outcome and the effect of this case on the client’s personal life. Fortunately, we were able to work with opposing counsel to negotiate a settlement for significantly less than one percent of the alleged damages. Our client’s business was able to comfortably bear the settlement amount, and the business continues to thrive.
What is your law firm’s technology stack? Do you use Slack? Practice management software? Trademark management software?
We heavily rely on technology for our case management, marketing, and automation. So we use Clio Manage and Clio Grow for our CRM, Slack for internal communications, Trello and Zapier for organizing our cases and projects, and Alt Legal for our trademark docketing and applications. For marketing we use Hootsuite, Lumen5, RenderForest, and Canva.
What is the biggest secret to your success that you’re okay sharing with us?
As I mentioned before, building and developing rapport with clients and colleagues has been critical to our firm’s success. My previous relationships provided the firm with the opportunity to create partnerships with social media influencers who had access to thousands of individuals who at one time or another might need the assistance of an IP attorney. We plan on utilizing the same strategy as we expand to serve CBD brands. Thereafter, it’s all about caring for the client and ensuring their needs are met.