Order Management Optimization With Marianne Zakhour

Marianne Zakhour is the Co-founder of OrderBot, an enterprise order, inventory, and product management software. She has led the company to double its yearly sales in seven years. With over 25 years of experience in B2B, B2C, and e-commerce system and process efficiencies, Marianne develops solutions to complex customer problems and builds teams to increase productivity and growth.

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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Marianne Zakhour’s catalyst for launching OrderBot
  • The importance of systemizing orders — and the costs of faulty order management
  • How to evaluate order management system efficiency
  • Partnering with 3PL companies to manage inventory and orders
  • Strategies for prioritizing orders
  • Case studies of effective order management
  • Marianne shares how her upbringing in Dubai shaped her entrepreneurial drive

In this episode…

With the demand for online shopping accelerating, businesses must fulfill multiple orders under tight time frames. Yet many companies don’t have a reliable order management system, leading to frustrated customers and lost revenue. How can you codify your orders for customer retention and satisfaction?

After becoming dissatisfied with fulfillment expectations and inventory discrepancies while consulting for a bakery, Marianne Zakhour recognized the value of a strategic order management system. However, she discovered that most businesses aren’t aware of the flaws in their systems and advises collaborating with internal management and external 3PL partners to identify and resolve issues. You can increase each order’s reliability by establishing and adhering to a fulfillment timeline, measuring customer order times, and obtaining visibility into your process.

In today’s Up Arrow Podcast episode, William Harris sits down with Marianne Zakhour, the Co-founder of OrderBot, to discuss developing reliable order management systems. Marianne shares how she increases companies’ order management accuracy from 80-99.98%, the consequences of poor order management, and how to collaborate with 3PL businesses.

Resources mentioned in this episode

Sponsor for this episode

This episode is brought to you by Elumynt. Elumynt is a performance-driven e-commerce marketing agency focused on finding the best opportunities for you to grow and scale your business.

Our paid search, social, and programmatic services have proven to increase traffic and ROAS, allowing you to make more money efficiently.

To learn more, visit www.elumynt.com.

Episode Transcript

Intro  0:03  

Welcome to the Up Arrow Podcast with William Harris, featuring top business leaders sharing strategies and resources to get to the next level. Now, let's get started with the Show.

William Harris  0:15  

Hey everybody, it's William Harris here the founder and CEO of Elumynt and the host of this podcast where I feature experts in the DTC industry showing strategies on how to scale your business and achieve your goals. Excited about the guests that I have today, Marianne Zakhour Marianne is the co founder and CEO of OrderBot in order and inventory management company. She's a source of optimism and a catalyst of growth with over 25 years experience in b2c b2b e commerce process in system efficiencies. Her expertise lies in envisioning solutions to complex customer challenges, and building exceptional teams to deliver suggested increased productivity and growth enablers. She has a balance between the corporate and entrepreneurial worlds. Marianne very excited to have you here today.

Marianne Zakhour  0:58  

Thank you for having me, William. I'm more excited. Yeah.

William Harris  1:02  

Oh, good. That's good. And I want to make sure that we give a shout out to Linda Bustos for introducing us. Linda is just another brilliant mind in the E commerce space. Somebody that I feel is just a light and a breath of fresh air and not surprised that she would also know you.

Marianne Zakhour  1:17  

Yes, yes. She's in the UK. She's my neighbor here in Vancouver.

William Harris  1:20  

I love it. So before I jump into the backstory here, because we're going to talk a lot about the inventory management and stuff here too. I do want to announce our sponsorship. This episode is brought to you by Elumynt Elumynt is an award winning advertising agency optimizing e commerce campaigns around profit. In fact, we've helped 13 of our customers get acquired with the largest one selling for nearly 800 million. And we were ranked as the 12th fastest growing agency in the world by Adweek. You can learn more on our website@elumynt.com elumynt.com that said not for the boring stuff on to the fun stuff. Marianne, why did you start OrderBot what made you say this is the thing that I'm passionate about and I want to pour into and that the world needs right now.

Marianne Zakhour  2:07

Oh, thank you for asking this question. Because I love it. I was this is over 20 years ago, William, I was director of IT and one of my favorite cities in the world in San Francisco. And I was running all the technology of Boudin bakeries, we sold breads in a basket and sold it all over the world had 52 cafes, sales reps on the road selling to different cafes as well. And for bakeries. And one of the businesses after I had them set up their inventory management and after center point of sale and a lot of systems upgrades and to the best of breed. After that, the big question was, how are we going to increase our sales online? And how are we going to be able to manage going from a million dollars in sales to multi million dollars in sales in no time. And I just took me one day at the warehouse to try and help them out. And I realized that their plan of spending $75,000.20 years ago that was a lot of money $75,000 on a website to make it prettier and sexier, was not going to cut it because we were not able to deliver consistently and reliably on with every order that 10 orders that went out 25% of them failed to either be delivered on time or have the right inventory to them. So we'd have to call customers and try and get them to change their mind to a different item. It was like how can you grow your sales like that. And one of the big things if you were to put one label on me as a person is reliability. So I have a really hard time selling or committing to a sale unless I know I can fulfill it. So I kept thinking what can we do to make this more reliable? 20 years ago, there was no back end ecommerce, there was nothing. There was no return management. Yes. But we had so many different channels, we had online orders, we had all our cafes ordering. We had sales reps on the road ordering for corporate gifts, we had a huge amount of channels coming through. And by the time the orders came in inventory was already wrong. And you know, so I thought, why don't we build it. And that's what happened. We built it saw the success and I just I just was so excited. I knew because I had searched for six months that there was nothing like it. And decided then to kind of like I've accomplished my mission with Boudin got them to best of breed got every area of them to be growth oriented. And this is the time to come and take this to many more potential customers out there.

William Harris  4:29  

Yeah, so this was born out of an actual real pain that you felt personally and I think that's one of the best ways to start a company is being able to look at something and saying this is a problem that I need solved, doesn't exist. How do I solve this? And you took that and ran with that. And now you guys are working with absolutely massive companies. Why does this matter even more at scale? One of the things we talked about was you know how you know you when you grow this shirt 25% on smaller matters, but um you know large, large companies, this matters even more. What are some of the problems that large companies are dealing with? And why? How this solves?

Marianne Zakhour  5:07  

Yeah, so you're right. And you know what this matters for small and it matters more and more and more and more as your volume grows. So for the smaller ones, it's a matter of connection, there is no company anymore, that doesn't have two systems talking to each other, you want to have a front end and a back end, they need to be connected, they need to be talking to each other. If your volumes are low, you can catch an error pretty fast. Because you're you only have maybe 100 orders a day and you're fine. But think about a company. We work with staples Canada, for example, that has or we worked with Live Nation, we worked with many bigger companies who had very, very, very, very large volumes. Think about, you know, Live Nation did Merchandising, and there's Harry Styles, who tweeted something 37,000 orders in less than an hour, who's going to sit problems that happen, right? And think about like all the orders coming through and a very high volume state. If you're not equipped to update inventory at the millisecond level, you're not going to get inventory, right. And you're going to take another 30 something 1000 orders because it hasn't updated your inventory. So this this example was you know, luckily one channels a bit less complicated. But the minute you have Staples has multiple channels, they sell corporate, they sell online, they release a ps4 that some people are ordering a b2c b2b, huge number of volumes, if you're not updating in a millisecond, forget it. Now you have a bunch of oversold now you have people on customer service, their phones are ringing nonstop, because you know, they haven't delivered and there's a cost of customer service, there's a cost of credit cards that you need to refund and bad. You know, bad omen, like you've just sold a bunch of stuff got a bunch of people are excited that they're gonna, who doesn't have a 17 year old and I have a 17 year old son who's waiting for the ps4. And then they get an email says you're not getting it, you know? So? Yeah, so it's so important, you know, especially at volume. Well,

William Harris  7:02

you talked about the cost. And I think that's something that maybe we don't talk about often enough. You know, first of all, there's, to your point, like there's the cost of the customer itself, feeling frustrated, and that's a that's a really big deal your son, then you know, he's excited to get the ps4 and all of a sudden, he's not getting it. And that's irritating you as a mom, and just all of your time. And so there's there's cost there, but it's a soft cost, right. But then there are actual very real costs that are involved in this as well. And not just opportunity lost, but actual costs that are involved in one of the things you mentioned was the cost of the customer service team having to deal with this. That's an actual very real tangible cost that that has to go into it. What are some of the other costs that people are maybe not calculating when they're thinking about the accuracy of their order management system?

Marianne Zakhour  7:50  

I think it's funny, because it's been years, we've been working on an ROI calculator on our website. And it's so hard to quantify all the costs, because you not only have the marketing effort that you have put on your effort that has now gone wasted. Now you've taken in a bunch of orders that you have taken them on, that means you have paid someone for a per order volume, to process all these orders, whether you're on Shopify can go anywhere you are they charge you on a per order on a certain volume level, Your Honor, what we count the volume, now that all this is counted as volume, and there is a processing element, there's hosting fees, there's all that stuff. And now the customer gets an email saying they don't think they're calling in a call center, whether you're doing call and call center, whether you're doing chats, all that is also expensive. And the volumes, sometimes volumes are so high, you can't even keep up with it. And then the worst one, the one that bothers me is also like the hard physical dollar cost as well, as well as customer service of like credit cards, credit cards has taken, you know, to whatever percent of your transaction, you're not getting that money back. Measurable cost of you know, I'm happy customers and non retard, they go to another website, and now you lost them. And they're like, I'm not gonna go back to this company next time. So it's, it's, it's, it's a big cost.

William Harris  9:17  

Yeah. How do people evaluate whether or not their current order management system is adequate for where they're at whether there's problems. And so, you know, I'm thinking about this. And let's say somebody's on Shopify, and they're running their store. And they may know that this is happening to some degree, but maybe they don't have as deep of insight into knowing that, oh, this is an issue for me right now. What are the what are the first metrics they can start looking at? Or where can they look to see just how big of an issue this is for them? And maybe they already have an ordered management system and they're looking at this time to see is this doing a good enough job for me or do I need to change things up here? What are those types of metrics or where are they looking to find those reports? Ya know,

Marianne Zakhour  9:59  

William, I To guarantee you, I'm gonna take a guess. But I'm, I'm ready to guarantee the most companies don't really necessarily know where the true problems are. So they can talk about KPI. The best way to measure this is when did your customer order? What was your SLA? Did you commit first? Are you able to come up? Or are you one of these companies was like, I'm just scared to commit the time, because who knows when they're gonna get it? So some of the companies are still there. And then they're the companies who are being braver and more saying, I'm gonna commit to a timeline. And and now I need to measure when did they order? Did they receive it with that timeline and take your order percentage, so when we, when we took on bigger customers, you know, they were at 80%. We call this a perfect order. And we have dashboards to show that and we took them to 99.98%. Yeah, this is very exciting. I love I love what I do, because I feel the tangible results. And I feel again, if there's one word that's very important in my life is reliability. And I feel like I'm giving that I'm giving that power to customers to give to their own. So what are the things that the biggest challenge for them? And I, you know, I tell you a funny story. So there was one summer, there was one summer I said, this is not fair Marianne, you're in the business of providing this reliability to customers. But you only order from Amazon, because Amazon Prime is reliable, I don't have time, I'm a busy single mom, I have so much on my plate, I don't have time to order something and then follow up and sit hours on the customer service line. So I, I ordered everything from Amazon Prime, because I know it's going to get there and it's not going to waste my time. But I've thought to myself, I'm in the business of providing this tool to other non Amazon customers, I want people to be in the market to be able to compete to sell with their own branding. So I need to get out there and stop using Amazon Prime for a whole summer was hard. It's very hard. But I need to I'm not going to name the brands. But I picked all the anything and everything that I that I wanted to order that summer and I went to order online, well guess what? I more than 50% of them, I had to end up either at the store or with customer service. And when I tried to dig in a bit more just because of my background, there was always an excuse, oh, this is not us. Its ups this is not us. It's its inventory. This it was never them. And I hated that I hated being a customer listening to a vendor telling me it's not them or take ownership. Take ownership. It's you. So what we're big on and if you I wish you'd meet my whole team, I wish they were all here behind me because I speak on their behalf. And they're all very caring, loving people who wants to have their customers be reliable and they work day in and day out. We are 24/7 operation. And our order management system is the glue is ours are any I'm sure all other companies out there are providing that service. But you need a system that is able to track that. And to be able to say it wasn't UPS it was this. And the visibility needs to be at the higher up. Because guess what, if you're an employee, it's human nature, you make a mistake? You might fess up, you might not Fess up. And it's always someone else's fault. Right. So or maybe it is or maybe it's not, but there's the executive at the higher level who's making these decisions? Have the visibility to see where the trail? At what point? Is it your order E commerce? Is it your order management? Is it your inventory? And I think the key is and having that visibility, so you can address it. Right? So and it's having a system that gives you that dashboard and that visibility of you know, we're often one system amongst 12 vendors around us. And so we're able to tell where where did it fail, and it's always about not finger pointing because I hate that but about addressing fixing the problems so that you get better and better and better. Does that help

William Harris  13:57  

you can't does you can't get better unless there's accountability and ownership of problems mistakes. I was in the hospital so for a long time a lot of people may not know this, I was a nurse I worked in open heart unit and got trained in the other ICUs and one of the things that I really liked that at the hospital that I've brought to the agency world is this idea of of no fault. You know, you need to be able to have ownership over any problems. Because we look at these as process opportunities. If there's an immediate worry of fault for something, then what do you do as a human typically then you're going to bury it right? Now think about it from a hospital's perspective. If you bury the if somebody's you know leg gets amputated the wrong leg and you bury it because you're you don't want to get you know in trouble for it or wherever this might be. You might not find out why did the wrong leg amputated in the first place and how do we prevent this from happening again and the next time and so having this i You have this no fault policy, where it's just a matter of look, yeah, as long as you didn't, you know, intentionally screw up on purpose, you know, you're just trying to do the wrong thing because you hate somebody or whatever, then there's no fault, there's an opportunity for process to be improved. And I think that's kind of what you're talking about with this accountability chart is, you know, with the dashboard, the ability to see, look, I'm not necessarily pointing a finger at you ups, or DHL or, or picker, right. I'm simply saying, I need to know where this problem is. So we can fix it. And if it is a problem with our picking, then we can we can address this, if it's a problem with one picker in particular, we can still address it, maybe they weren't trained correctly, right, whatever that might be. And so you say, Okay, let's, let's work through this, but at least gives you the ability to figure out where the problem is to be able to fix that. And I think that's huge. I love

Marianne Zakhour  15:54

that you gave the example of hospitals and Grider know that about you, I commend you for being that it's such a wonderful career as well and nice that you made the nice transitions like, I everyone thinks it's not life and death. And it's not important, not true. Not true. It's not about just like hospitals a huge one. And I'm sure I'm sure there's no visibility in most hospitals to who knows, but but, you know, there's, there's two exact two things I can say to that one is in my team, because I'm CEO, and because I'm I'm a bit of a feisty personality, you know, super busy, I sometimes forget to put, you know, a kind word before I ask, why did this go wrong? Everyone's like, so busy, you know, no, this is not me. This is. And I always have to remind people I, you know, as long as it's not intentional, and as long as it didn't repeat, because when it does repeat means something wasn't visible in the first place, you know, or, or there's someone not qualified enough, but then we can find where they're qualified. There's no problem. But the thing is, we need to fix the problem. And one of the biggest, common complaints I get with a lot of our customers and the minute I hear it, I'm like, I'm irked. But I'm pleased is a lot of people in this business who are selling, you know, consumer goods, come to me with we hate our warehouse. We don't like our three Fiat, we don't like the people who are shipping on it, they make mistakes. And I say the same thing to all of them. And they're like, we're looking to switch. And I said to them, Well, what work did you do in order to gain visibility of what their challenges are? Before you start switching? And if you have an order management solution that does the job for you, then you're able to understand did you send to me? Do you have a contract with them? Do you know how many orders they can ship out today? Do you? Do you have visibility of the inventory that they have? Have you ordered inventory properly? And help them out with that issue? Are you able to like make sure that they get the allocated number of orders that they can commit to shipping within a day? Or are you expecting them to do things they've never committed to? Like, how are you managing them? Or are you expecting them to manage you, but in my in my books, I own the product, I own the business, I have ownership and accountability to help everyone else have the tools they need to support me, right. I mean, I, so I urge them to do all that homework first, before they think of switching.

William Harris  18:22  

I think that's, that's huge. Because to your point, you may be, you know, maybe even need to upgrade your plan with with whoever this is. And it's like, look, there may be just not able to keep up with it. Because of your you've tapped out from a plan perspective, right? And it's like you need to be able to, but the idea here is like you need that visibility into the data you mentioned before. And I will say this is way outside of my realm of typical expertise, right, like I'm much more on the marketing side. And so I might not even use the right terms. But you talked about like load management and bundling. Like, where did those come into play within this issue and dynamic between the three PLO the order mo systems?

Marianne Zakhour  19:00

Loads is huge, because you're looking at am I am I sending them 5000 orders a day when they said they can only do four on my power. And then I'm upset because the one most important order that needs to go out didn't go out so that I helped them prioritize what let's say the load is bigger and you're just trying to get as many possible and you try to get them to get overtime. Did you help them prioritize and say these are more important start your morning with these Did you help them with you know, there's there's all sorts of expedited shipping and all that stuff like so maybe the expedited shipping that they're trying to get out first is not as important to you as a bigger customer who has who's a wholesale customer has whatever it is. That's one element. The other element is they might have they might be bundling items for you. They might be picking, packing and putting items together whether so do you have the tools? Do you have the prod like we have in our product setup the ability to create bundles or create you know, multiple components into one item? How am I sending Add to the warehouse, am I sending each other 1am I sending it as a multiple. Have I been bakeries, for example, in San Francisco, we used to give our warehouse predicted volumes before so that we could help them we bundle before that busy day so that on that busy day, they're not bundling. So how much of that planning and forecasting and visibility? And, you know, are you partnering with your warehouse? Or are you just saying figure it out? That's

William Harris  20:28

huge, because I think most people are just saying, I'll just figure it out, like, I've sent you this stuff and just like, let it go, and just just handle it. And being able to partner with them, I think is something that I haven't heard talked about a whole lot. And when he talked about load management, it reminded me a lot of, let's just say I go to Chipotle, this is the best example I can come up with. But as I go into Chipotle, and I'm ready to order my burrito or something, but they just got 30 online orders. And so from a prioritizing these things, where it's like, well, maybe they're doing them and I'm sitting here twiddling my thumbs, I'm like, Look, I understand these came out in like a minute, I'm standing right here too, sometimes, right? It's like, can you weave me in with some of the 30 years, so I'm not sitting here for the next half an hour, just waiting waiting for, you know, my turn, I can see where you'd say like, Hey, maybe you prioritize the customer that's there, in person a little bit more. And so similarly, for what you're saying is, there might be different types of orders that you're going to prioritize? Can you set rules or something to allow that the warehouse to know which ones need to be prioritized? That way, the important ones aren't, aren't missed. If they do, you run into a load issue where, hey, have these 5000 We only got these 4000 out, but the important ones were handled. I,

Marianne Zakhour  21:37

you know, I love the example you gave, it's exactly a huge source of frustration for me, I go to a restaurant or I go somewhere, and I'm sitting there waiting, I made the effort to get in the car and to drive. And to come, you're paying rent, I'm helping you facilitate the cost of the table that you're paying for, because I'm sitting right here, but you're prioritizing the orders coming out from before. So the question is, does the person managing this as a manager or the executive or whatnot, have that visibility? Right, let's really don't, that's why I'm telling you most people are just relying on these weekly meetings with their managers with non you know, they have KPIs, and they have metrics, but do they have the right ones, they have a huge amount of volume that went out and then they have the mistakes that happened or the unhappy customers are, you know, we go into customer you know, prospects websites, the minute we see someone's unhappy, you know, customers unhappy about delivery or whatnot, we know that there is a place for us to go speak to people because I'm guessing that they don't even know why that customer was unhappy. Yeah, they might say, oh, customers and they couldn't wait five minutes. Well, what can you do to make it better? What can you do to make it better? Look at McDonald's, I love McDonald's. McDonald's is an institute Great job, McDonald's is I was hired at Boudin bakery, they had all points of sales. And they would like take forever to like click on it and couldn't look at the customer in the eye. And the goal was if you want this to grow, it has to be very easy. They need to be able to order look at your face smile. And there needs to be a red ticket that sounding alarms if this order took more than three minutes. So the management was very caring about it has to be delivered. And look, if you next time you go to McDonald's, you see that they have those tickets, they turn yellow, green, green, yellow, and then red ones, and then they start flashing. And that's the metrics that everyone's being evaluated on. Because someone had to wait and go through their drive thru. And same thing, they're super fast. There is a way you just have to be an Amazon does it so there is a way

William Harris  23:43  

Yeah. And so what else should we know about like just ordered bought in order management that could help us do a better job? Let's say that somebody is thinking, okay, you've got me sold this makes sense. What are the first steps that they should be looking at to getting started to making sure that they are partnering directly with you in their warehouse?

Marianne Zakhour  24:09  

I always say self awareness. Really, honestly, it's like the communication. It's the hardest thing for us when we meet a prospect is to understand their business. So we're not a typical fast where you come in and you just start using our software and there's no support and handhold people are asking us a ton of questions. It's it's not an easy setup, you have to put your products yet and customers or inventory. You have a certain process, you have your values and your company, the more you're aware, and very often we find that the person making the decision to buy and then the people actually implementing are living two different lives. So we'll come in and we'll make commitments based on what we hear from the decision makers. But if it's not in line with what the pro problems and the solutions and like the issues really are in the business. And yes, granted, we're here to solve that. But there's, again, there is the willingness to be able to say, Okay, I made a mistake, I didn't give you the right problem, let's it's software at the end of the day, you can just like, you know, and, and work together as a partner to make sure that we get to the end goal, because the end goal is to give you that awareness that you didn't know when you call them, you said, I need this. So just just to be okay with the fact that you might have asked for something without checking with your team, or without really knowing or you haven't been on the floor recently. And then, you know, there's a lot of people who haven't been on the floor recently, like an undercover

William Harris  25:44  

boss show, you remember that one? Yeah. It's like, they'd have to go and actually like be on the floor and doing that work. And they're undercover to see how it's done. And they get out there. And it's like, they're scrambling and failing that, like, wow, I didn't realize how hard it was to do this, this or this. And maybe there's room for me to improve this year. Now.

Marianne Zakhour  26:00  

I think it's so important. And I was chatting with one of my teams yesterday, team members yesterday, and she said, Are you talking to everyone in the team. So I said, I am just undercover. Find my rays. It's so important. My my brother, my younger brother, got a job with Bell Canada once and it was all about undercover, being hired as one of these customer service reps, who like was there undercover, and who had to give a report to him. And I admire that because, and you know, maybe he was so young, and he couldn't maybe understand everything. But I would have been like, I'm an executive, I want to come sit and take calls and take orders I want I want to sit and be there and do pick packing, I want to go sit with my warehouse, I want to and then understand the problems and then say, okay, that's what we need. So, but that's, that's my way of doing things.

William Harris  26:52

You mentioned a success with Harry Styles, and being able to, like handle a massive amount of orders all at once. What are what are some other successes and even talked about, you know, taking somebody from 80% to 99.8%? What are some other examples of successes like that, that you feel like you can talk about where somebody comes in, they get started using you? And you say, Wow, this is the clear evidence that we are, you are, we were paying for ourselves by doing this, right. So like, from an ad perspective, it's very easy for me to be able to prove that it's like, look, as a result of the advertising we did and the management fee, your EBIT, da went up by this mount like we've we've more than paid for ourselves. What are those highlights? And how do you show that for what you're doing?

Marianne Zakhour  27:39  

So we have I have so many stories I can I can talk about this forever, but I'll tell you a couple. Today we're working I was just talking to one one of our first customers has been with us for 12 years now. His name is Greg Alzheimer, he runs national sporting goods in New Jersey. I've met him many times had great moments with him. He has a you know, multinational business, which has, you know, Edi orders that come through. He has wholesale orders to the Nordstrom and Macy's and you know, you name it. He then you know, with with the help of us, he got onto Shopify to order b2c. And it's just been such a pleasure to watch you, Greg has a phenomenal attitude of partnership is the minute there's a problem, I'm going to call you and I'm not going to be mad and I'm going to be sitting there and let's solve it together. But you watch their numbers grow like drastically in 12 years. And you know, and we were part of this, we're part of enabling this growth, that you know, wholesaler in New Jersey, I feel it's not because of the system only. I think it's because there's a problem. And we're here, there's a team behind it. That helps you we're a bit different because we have a bit of a consulting element with us. But I can tell you stories and stories we have another customer chive like he's now in Atlanta Gift Show. He started when we started with him he was I don't know I can't even tell the numbers but they were tiny numbers. And it's grown and we've we've we've been there to watch him today. He's he got awarded the largest 3000 square foot of tradeshow to show his product and I was just on the phone the other day and I was like, Oh, how how amazing to be like, we had the customer one of our first customers, wishbone bikes, international all all over the world. They were like selling in England, selling in New Zealand selling in North America. We met them they were just like, you know, less than $100,000 in sales and like you you get to witness seeing 50,000 to $20 million in sales. I can't tell you how much joy that brings. To me. It's, it's, it's your part of not one business growth, but many many many, many business growth.

William Harris  30:00  

Yeah, no, that's good. And I love seeing that. In your you're beaming, you're literally if you know, if somebody's listening and not watching, you're you're literally beaming from ear to ear, like, I can tell that this joy that you get from this is very real. And that's encouraging. Which is a good time for me to transition. I like to talk a little bit about like, who is Marianne Zakhour then as well. So it's like getting to know you. What was it like for you growing up? And how did that contribute to the woman that you are today?

Marianne Zakhour  30:31  

So we Am I grew up in Dubai. And when my father got to Dubai in 1960s, it was like a desert. I remember him telling me that I took a bus to school, and it was a 20 minute ride. But I remember him telling me it was a whole age, right to get to where my school would have been when he landed. So. But one of the very particular things about Dubai, and I think the whole world knows about its growth is that when you live there when it's semi desert, so there was nothing when I was there, there was no movie theaters, there was there was there was the beach, and a couple of hotels, and you could only go to restaurants and drink at hotels. But because we've been there for such a long time, my father, my parents, my mom, or they weren't part of the community that helped this town grow. So at our dinner table or lunch, or every weekend, it was it was time with those who built all the highways and also built all the buildings and those who did the irrigation systems and, and it was just, you know, you'd sit there. And you know, there were so many so many kids, my parents had so many friends and it's the family that was always busy, you know, hosting each other and friendships, I couldn't help myself but be attracted to go sit where the men worked. Um, you know, my dad would tell us all these stories, and my dad was very big on like, independence. Woman and, and I go sit there, and I'd want to listen to those stories. And they all looked at me and said, like, don't you have a Barbie to go play with on your go play with your dolls? And why are you asking those questions? And, you know, most of the men were not that encouraging on like, you know, so I think I had this in New York, I'm like, I want to achieve these big things these people are achieving, and why are they shutting me down? I, I don't think I really understood at the time, but it took me a while to understand that, you know, they had, you know, my family would have loved me to, like, get married to a very wealthy guy and, you know, live more comfortably and not choosing the harder path. But I love it.

William Harris  32:27

And I think you're doing what inspires and encourages you and energizes you. And I think that's huge. And that's important. And it's funny that you brought up Barbie of all things too, because there's actually a really good commercial from Barbie. And I don't know if you remember this commercial, I don't know if you saw it, but it's one of my favorite commercials that's ever been made by any company, where they show. I think if I remember correctly, there's this little girl and she's in the doctor's office, and she's wearing the lab coat and like explaining what's going on and discussing stuff. And then, and then it shows her like giving a lecture at the university shows or doing like all of these other things. And then, and then it transitions. And it's not actually that girl doing that. And it shows that it's like she's actually playing with her Barbie dolls, imagining that she's doing that. And it's

Marianne Zakhour  33:12  

goosebumps every time and she says give me goosebumps. Yeah,

William Harris  33:15  

but that imaginative play of like you said, it's like you had dreams, you had goals and you're like I want to hear listen to the people who are doing these things and saying, I'm going to do that one day. And here you are. And you're like, Yeah, I did it. I'm an entrepreneur, I've built this company. And just congratulations. That's really cool.

Marianne Zakhour  33:32  

Thank you. Thank you. You know, I tell you something, no one knows about me. But I grew up wishing I was a boy. And then I was one day it hits me and I'm like, why am I wishing I'm a boy. Yes, I get it. Mother motherhood is difficult when you have I don't know there's there's certain emotions that comes with carrying a baby and some men have it some don't. Some women have it. Some don't like, you know, but totally. But I just was like, oh, juggling this, you know, parenthood and business and was not easy. But you know what, it doesn't mean I should have been a boy. It just means that I can do it. And I just need to believe that I can.

William Harris  34:07  

Yeah, and I think that's beautiful, too. I know for a while we're going way off topic, but I love it because that's what this is about. You know, for a while it was being a girl you're not allowed to like pink. It was funny as my girls, when we decorated my oldest bedroom it was all from world market. There wasn't an ounce of pink in her room. Really. It was just very eclectic. And, and I can remember as soon as she was able to pick what she wanted, everything was pink. But then when she goes to school, it's almost like Oh, you like pink you like you're not allowed to like pink like girls can't like pink anymore. It's like you have to like teal or black or something else that it was like, we went to this opposite direction for a little while I think where it was like, you weren't allowed to be a girl and also so like girly things and I think the idea here is it's like, look as a girl, you can just say I like black or blue or pink or green or gray or yellow or whatever. And that's okay. You can say I want to be the girl Who wants to grow up to be a doctor or the girl who wants to grow up to be an entrepreneur or the girl who wants to grow up and be a mom? Yeah. All Okay, path. Yes,

Marianne Zakhour  35:07  

yes. And, you know, I, you know, in my family, there's everything. There's the, you know, one brother married a radiologist and another brother married a lovely, lovely woman who, who takes care of herself in the sports and has a huge Instagram following and takes care of the house two young girls that are doing great. And I feel like I fought it. I fought it for the i It's so funny. You bring up the pinky example because I kept saying I hate pink. I never had to think I just didn't want to like think I didn't want to be a girl. And I remember till this day, the day where that switched, and I said, it's okay to wear pink. I'm gonna be proud because it made me it took me accomplishing certain things to say, Hey, I'm a woman and I did it. I'm gonna wear pink today because it's okay. I actually came home and celebrated that to tell you that.

William Harris  35:56

That's really good. You should celebrate that. Yeah. What about if I was in the office with you? What, you know, you mentioned some things that I learned about you. But what else what I learned about you being in person with you that I can't necessarily see or experience just over this.

Marianne Zakhour  36:15  

So it's funny because everyone says, oh, Marianne's here. Her laugh is around. So it's and they all imitate my laugh. And they all make me you know, tease me about my laugh. And they're all like, Oh, she's not here, you're a laugh today. And I feel like if I'm going to be at the office, and I miss those days terribly, because no one wants to go back to the office. And I'm having to kind of do things to force people to show up sometimes. But it's, it was the most beautiful days ever to have everyone in the company. And now the company's bigger so and all over the place as well. So it's hard to like, but there was my laugh that they all laughed about. And then one big signature item of Marianne is we're all having lunch together. So I can eat twice a week, we're ordering food for everyone. And we're having lunch because you know, we talked about being on the floor the other day, but when you sit around, we have a big huge kitchen table. And when you all sit around the table, and talk and some might come the first half an hour, some might come after some might come 10 minutes, but just talk about their day and look at the look in their face. Are they happy? Are they not happy? Everyone's drawn to food. I love food to that. Like it's I've always wanted to. Yeah, I can't go and deal with that. Like everyone does this intermittent fasting and like doesn't eat for I don't know how long and I'm like no, no. To every inch of my day, I'm not skipping any. But I feel it's the secret behind the bond. We've all created an office. So yeah. And smile. Labs.

William Harris  37:48  

I love that. I mean, that's such a positive culture than that you are creating. And I'm right there with you on food. I love food. In the laughing though, that's a good one. Who do you get your laugh from then? Is it your mom, your dad, grandpa?

Marianne Zakhour  38:03  

Oh, my my mom is a very feisty smart woman who, you know, I remember growing up with her, you know, my whiteness is from my dad. But my, my mom is dislike, everything is possible. Like don't ever think she has this ability to manifest things like, I remember going, you know, we'd go into very busy parking lots, and she'd be like, I'm gonna go and I'm gonna find the place right in front of the entrance. And she'd find it I don't know. And then there was some very, very big challenges she worked. So this was very different for a woman in Abu Dhabi. She just liked to be around people and didn't want to be the stay at home moms. I think I get some of it from her and worked with like embassies and was always an executive, right hand person for someone but made things impossible. She'd come home and tell us the stories about how very bright senior people would try something and couldn't do it. And they come to her and she figures out so she's always laughing, always laughing as well. So yeah, maybe my mom and my dad so I'm a bit of both. My brothers are a lot of fun. We have a very fun dynamic at home. So it's

William Harris  39:10

cool. Why if I remember correctly, you're talking about you you also speak French and Arabic In addition to English, right? Like, is there any other languages that I need to know about?

Marianne Zakhour  39:20  

I'm dying to get back to my Spanish because I absolutely adored the culture. My son's in Spain, which in Valencia as we speak, but or maybe it's a bit late and he finished now and you didn't pay unless somewhere but I love the Spanish language. I feel like it's it comes with you know, more aromas. Nice music, I love dancing. So yeah, I can understand that all you can speak to me ask me all the questions in Spanish. I just be challenged right now. I haven't practiced answer, but yeah,

William Harris  39:51  

well, I should have I should have started our podcast off by asking you either Sivan. Or it is the afternoon so I could have said Mr. OCAD. Right. There's many of them. ways that I could have started this

Marianne Zakhour  40:01  

off. You did a great job, William, appreciate it.

William Harris  40:04  

So what about other hobbies or things? You know, what are your hobbies? What do you get excited about just on a daily basis,

Marianne Zakhour  40:15  

my passion and where I'm going to retire is on a boat somewhere. So something that I don't know if anyone knows about me, but I used to be a racer and cars and boats. At 17, we used to race boats and Dubai on the on the waters and they're kind of like, boats. It's yeah, speed boats, my friends had boats, I wasn't allowed. So no one knew none of my family members knew I was on the boats, but I didn't wasn't. And then in University of Montreal, there was no boats. So it was cars. So I spend my weekends with, again, boys, souping up like small cars and putting, lowering the suspensions and changing things and then going to drag races. I love speed. And I need every birthday of mine. I go to Vegas, and I get on those racetracks with a new car every time. So, you know, I, you know, my brother was laughing at me the other day, and he's like, can you live with that risk in your life?

William Harris  41:15  

No, but that's good, right? Like you need that I can certainly appreciate that. And I'd say that that's maybe even another sign of an entrepreneur is you need a little bit of that adrenaline in your life. We were talking earlier before the show here. I I was spent some time up at the Apostle Islands this past weekend with my wife are celebrating our 14th wedding anniversary. And I did not raise boats but I'm getting to the boat part of this story. I grew up in in the inner city, there was no boating where I grew up. But there were there was a a what I'm trying to blank on the name here right now. The boats was sails sailboats. I just for some reason, struggling, there was a sailboat regatta there. And they're they're racing. And I was walking back along the doctor one day and they're like, Hey, do you want to race with us tomorrow? And I'm like, you know, like, why are you just randomly asking me and I see the sign. And they basically just needed another person because it was a little bit choppy out there, whatever. They needed another person out there to kind of help balance things out, as they were, you know, going around the turns and stuff. And so it said that they were just looking for somebody over 200 pounds. And so I almost got to race in a sailboat simply because of my weight there. But I think it's amazing that you got to go no, well, no, because it was we were headed back that day to go pick up our kids. And so it was one of those things where it's like, oh, any other time I would have said yes. But you know, my wife and I were looking at her just like we've got babysitters. We've already been relying on them for a couple of days. It's like, I can't take the next six hours and go out

Marianne Zakhour  42:38

there like you should have. Have you been? And we got it I used to do regardless in San Francisco all the time. No, I haven't. And I did. Yeah, I didn't do a day is a funny story with my ex husband. We were both fanatics. So my plan to retire was to go in Europe, between Greece, Italy, south of France in the Mediterranean and live on a boat with nothing I want no belongings just live on a boat and go from port to port. I have to see land. I don't want to not see land. I'm not one of these. But I want to go because I need the food and I should you know, the life and the party and whatever. So and but I you know, he was like, I'll go we want to buy a boat. So I go take all the certificates and I'll go do all this and I'm sorry. Okay, you go do that. And we did all these regattas. And then one day the captain comes to me and says, I am promoting you and I've said to what and he's like to tactician. I said, Why is like you're always the one strategizing and telling us how to win them. I said, When did I do that? He said, he started giving me all these examples. I hadn't even paid attention. I'd be like, Greg, you need to go this way. And Greg's like, but that's the longer way I'm like, Yeah, but that's the way that's gonna make us win and we'd follow and that's what I loved about him was he took the chance on me. He followed and someone was telling me the other day, I don't like sailboats, they go like this. I like speed. That's the thrill of a sample like this and I'm sitting on the tip and the wind's coming in my face is I love the water you can tell I like absolutely love the water.

William Harris  44:06  

That's good. Well, I hope that that dream comes true here for you one day when you retire.

Marianne Zakhour  44:10  

Well I hope you'll come join us until like boats do. I

William Harris  44:14  

would love to be the one jumping back and forth across there throwing my weight around to help keep us

Marianne Zakhour  44:21

all there too. And

William Harris  44:23

yeah, if if people wanted to stay in touch with you work with you, what's the best way for them to reach out

Marianne Zakhour  44:31  

anything I think? You know, I met OrderBot. You can find me on LinkedIn. I'm not very quick. There's so much junk these days on LinkedIn that it's hard. But if the message is, you know, a bit not marketing or salesy, I'll get to it. My email is I'm happy to share my email or even my cell with anyone. Marianne@orderbot.com Reach out anytime and we can just chat can be just a chit chat. I love it.

William Harris  44:59  

I really pray Should it Marianne, you've been very helpful and just fun to get to know here today and I hope you have a great rest of your day today.

Marianne Zakhour  45:08  

This has lots of fun. Thank you for this opportunity, William, great chatting with you.

William Harris  45:12  

Likewise and thank you everyone for tuning in. Have a great day. Take care.

Outro  45:17  

Thanks for listening to the Up Arrow Podcast with William Harris. We'll see you again next time and be sure to click Subscribe to get future episodes.

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