Auburn Spotlight, Elizabeth Mercer '11

"You don’t need millions of dollars in funding to be successful."
Elizabeth Mercer '11
Harbert College of Business Supply Chain Management graduate
Owner, Jungle Scout

Spotlight Interview

Supply Chain Management alum takes care of business across the planet

Waves crash against the shore, sunshine warms the blue skies and a short stroll on smooth, sandy beaches is all that separates you from the hammock swaying the shade between two palm trees.

It’s just another day at the office for 2011 Harbert College of Business Supply Chain Management graduate Elizabeth Mercer.

Mercer and her husband, Greg (engineering, 2011), own Jungle Scout, an Amazon product research tool that reveals information to clients – including estimated sales and revenue – and teaches them what products to market online and how to best market them. The couple’s office is remote, allowing them to travel to exotic locations and do business there – 30 countries in the past two and a half years, as a matter of fact.

“My husband and I did indeed sell our belongings to travel the world,” said Mercer, who has traveled across Southeast Asia, Australia, Japan, China, Denmark, Morocco, South America, Bali and even Antarctica. “Though purely personal at the time, we gained tremendous business opportunities by doing so. This lifestyle and business set up does not work within rigid guidelines. It’s an evolving landscape and one I am proud to be in the forefront.

“The lifestyle of living and working in new places affords us the flexibility of work hours as well as the introduction to new cultures and experiences that we would not have had living in one location.”

What does Jungle Scout do? The web platform educates clients how to build profitable Amazon businesses via written content, video courses and webinars that show clients how to better sell their products on Amazon.

“Not all products are created equal,” said Mercer, whose growing company has 33 employees spread across 10 nations. “We help you identify the products that will make you money. Online is the future. No longer do you need to make a product and then pitch it to department stores, retailers or buyers. With the power of online selling, and Amazon in particular, you can take advantage of their huge customer base that visits Amazon daily.”

While Mercer pointed out that it may appear she sips margaritas from beaches all over the globe, working remotely doesn’t come without challenges. She recalled a day early in the evolution of the company when the Jungle Scout application—which hosts 20,000 visitors daily—crashed, but they were powerless to resolve. Why? “We were traveling from Thailand to Vietnam and we did not have WiFi on the plane,” Mercer explained. “We landed in Saigon, got the message that the application was down, used airport WiFi while waiting in line for our visas to enter Vietnam to communicate and find a solution with our team.”

It took less time to communicate with their team in Vancouver and resolve the web problem than it did to receive their visas. “I wish the Vietnam border control was as fast as our team!” Mercer said.

Though her family’s business has taken off, Mercer offered advice to other entrepreneurs hesitant to take the plunge. She suggested bootstrapping your business ideas. “You don’t need millions of dollars in funding to be successful and you definitely don’t need a completely polished application,” she said. “What can you put out there just to get the ball rolling? Start with that and build from there.”