Below is My Import Dojo Review
Updated: December 2016
Import Dojo Masterclass is a little different than other Amazon private label courses in the sense that it focuses heavily on the sourcing and importing aspects of the business. I actually hadn’t looked into the details of what the course offers before I purchased it, but I had been extremely impressed with the quality of free content the author posts on his blog and decided to include the course in my list of 2017 reviews.
Import Dojo Masterclass – Who is Behind It
Manuel Becvar started his career working for a large retailer in Europe and moved to Hong Kong in 2005 to work in their sourcing office. He spent the next 10 years working for a variety of large retailers, where he learned the culture of how to do business in China and how to manage the sourcing/importing process with the high standards of his customers.
This experience gives him a unique advantage as most Amazon sellers (including myself) have learned how to source and import products through trial and error, and don’t know really know best practices.
Manuel is also starting to make a name for himself in the Amazon seller community. I’ve seen him doing a lot of interviews, participate in live events and put out quality content in a variety of places. What I’ve seen from his is what made me decide to purchase and review Import Dojo.
Import Dojo Masterclass – What You Get
There are actually various pricing tiers for the course, but this review focuses on the “Masterclass” option. You may want to consider the Brand Evolution option depending on what kind of products you expect to import. It’s is a bit more expensive, but also includes info on compliance/certification topics that are important and which can be very complex. The Masterclas Membership Area is broken down into five areas:
- Case Study – series of videos that walks you step-by-step through the process of Manuel launching a French Press coffee maker on Amazon
- The Import Bible – professional edition of how to import products from China and builds on what you can find in his free version of the ebook
- The FBA Bible – walks you through the process of starting an Amazon private label business
- Business in China Guide – describes what you need to know in the event you decide to physically visit China to do business
- Google Hangouts Videos – a series of interviews with experts in various areas
The Brand Evolution membership comes with an additional 8 modules on compliance for all mandatory safety standards & labeling requirements for Europe and North America, as well as 11 modules on how to create brand.
Of course, there is also a private Facebook community where you can ask questions.
There a few things to keep in mind. The Case Study is very heavy on videos, but the guides are all text based. Each one of Manuel’s videos in the Case Study is kept very short so they are easy to digest, but Manuel does speak with a slight German accent. His English is actually very good, but it’s worth mentioning in case you are the type that has trouble understanding accents.
You can tell that Manuel is very meticulous and well prepared in everything he does, so he is a good person to model in that sense. In general, I found the Case Study to be the best part of the course, with the Import Bible coming in as a close second.
As with my other reviews, I’m going to segment the Import Dojo review into three areas of importance:
- Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
I go into more detail below, but quality content surrounding the importing process is Import Dojo’s USP. Unfortunately, the community is on the weaker side, but the unique content and moderate price point is enough for me to look past this. Again, I go through my thoughts in much more detail throughout this review, so let’s jump into the meat of things. As I discuss the content, you should get a pretty good sense of why I consider the content itself to be the USP.
Import Dojo Review: Content / USP
Import Dojo Masterclass: Case Study
The case study is a 53-chapter series that walks you step-by-step through the process of Manuel launching a French Press on Amazon. I can’t tell for sure, but it appears that his approach is to add additional chapters over time as the case study continues to develop. It’s also worth mentioning that the videos are of very high production quality, making them easy to watch. I know how frustrating it can be to follow an instructional video that has poor production quality.
Regarding the content, you can tell that Manuel is a very experienced importer. I clearly see a difference relative to people who are experienced as Amazon sellers, but “get by” as importers. Manuel covers the process in a comprehensive manner and much better than I’ve seen it covered anywhere else. He’s really in a different league due to his prior experience as a professional buyer. In connection with this, the course includes documents you can use in your own business, like Exclusivity Agreements, Purchase Agreements and Supplier Verification forms. He shows you the exact emails he sends to his suppliers and describes why he asks for the things that he does.
I personally find this part of the Case Study to be the most helpful as I really liked seeing the types of questions he asks of suppliers and his specific requirements before placing an order to make sure that he’s protected in the event of any problems (or to help avoid problems in the first place). These are the specific topics that I found to be the most helpful as you won’t easily find the information anywhere else:
- Researching regulations and certifications
- Sending out DETAILED inquiries to suppliers
- Evaluating supplier offers and checking their backgrounds
- Calculating duties and costs
- Collecting vital information about the product and supplier
- Costing and preparing the shipment from China
- Minimizing risks when placing your order
- Arranging your shipment
- Booking a pre-shipment product inspection
Again, he covers much more than what I’ve listed above, but this is the content that I think really differentiates Import Dojo from other courses. Without wanting to jump too far ahead of myself, this alone was easily worth the few hundred dollars I spent on the course.
Ultimately, the information he provides regarding the importing process is meant to reduce the risk of you losing money due to an unexpected event or working with a poor supplier. I know that I’ve personally made avoidable mistakes that have cost me money, which is what makes information like this so valuable.
Although I’ve mostly touched on the importing process, I want to be clear that Manuel does run though a full product launch on Amazon. He does a decent job, but in all honesty I can’t say that I have enough confidence to rely on him for up to date info on Amazon. He covers the basics well, but his expertise is really with importing.
It’s also worth noting that Manuel offers a sourcing service of his own for those that would like to rely on experts. I’ve actually used his service a couple of times (prior to purchasing the course) and was generally pretty happy with it.
Import Dojo Masterclass: Import Bible Professional Edition
I haven’t taken the time to see how this compares to the free edition he offers on the Import Dojo website, but the Professional version that’s included with the course is a 65-page PDF document that covers the importing process.
It’s all text based and covers a lot of the same information that’s in the Case Study (which is all videos), but is more general in nature. In that sense, it serves as an excellent resource to reference when needed as it may be a little inconvenient to go back to videos when looking for specific information. The guide is largely focused on mistakes to avoid and how to manage a mutually beneficial relationship with your supplier. Nothing is particularly rocket science, but it’s the type of information that I imagine took years for him to learn through experience. It’s certainly better to have his guidance as a resource rather than learning through trial and error when you’ve got money at stake.
Import Dojo Masterclass: Business in China Guide
This is a 47-page guide about physically visiting China to do business. While it would be very helpful, my guess is that most people buying the Import Dojo aren’t quite ready to be visiting the country yet, so I place less value on this portion of the course. The guide is also fully text-based and covers the following:
- Having a plan
- Booking the trip
- Time of year
- Visa requirements
- Travel and accommodations
- Do’s and don’ts in terms of cultural norms and politeness
It goes through these areas (and more) in pretty good detail, but unless you actually plan on visiting China soon, this portion of the course will likely have little value to you.
Import Dojo Masterclass: The FBA Bible
The FBA Bible is a 64-page text-based guide. It covers the basics of launching a product on Amazon, but I wouldn’t describe it as a comprehensive guide. In fact, it’s probably not too different than a lot of the free information you can find online with a bit of searching. I appreciate Manuel’s effort towards trying to be complete resource for Amazon sellers, but it’s clearly not his expertise. The FBA Bible does dive into the importing process more than you’d find using free resources, but you’re probably better off just referring to his Import Bible and Case Study instead.
My largest issue is that I don’t have sufficient confidence that he’s able to keep up with rapid changes happening at Amazon. Of course, I could be wrong, but my opinion is largely based on the fact that his community isn’t as active as I’d like to see.
I should mention that he does provide quality blog posts quite often, but I don’t always have a chance to read them. To be honest, I’d like anything extremely important to be posted to the members-only area so that I know it’s considered important enough to focus on, but it’s good to check his blog as well.
Import Dojo Masterclass: Google Hangouts
The Import Dojo Masterclass also includes a series of Google Hangouts where Manuel interviews subject-matter experts. To be honest, there were 29 of them as of the date of this review, and I haven’t taken the time to watch them. The truth is I feel like I rarely make the effort to go back and watch recorded webinars/Hangouts unless I have a very specific reason to do so. With that in mind, it’s likely that I’d only find a couple of these Hangouts really useful to me, although it’s still nice to see them available.
More than anything, I think the Hangouts really just shows that he’s active and working to generate quality content. Most seem to be in the form of interviewing field matter experts and it seems that he’s posting a new one every couple of weeks.
Import Dojo Masterclass: Community
If you’ve read any of my other reviews, you know how important I find an active community to be. I’m taking a bit of a different approach with my Import Dojo review though. The Facebook Group is much less active than I like to see, but I’ve decided not to focus on it as much for this course for a couple of reasons. First, the world of importing doesn’t change very quickly, so I wouldn’t really expect too many active discussions. More comprehensive Amazon seller courses need a very strong community because the business changes so quickly. I should point out, however, that Manuel provides unique, quality content in the group a regular basis and personally responds to many posts himself, so that’s nice to see.
Manuel also provides you with his personal Skype contact information after you sign up, so you’ve got him as a more direct resource to make up for a slower community.
Import Dojo Review: Conclusion
My final thoughts are that Import Dojo has done a great job on covering importing and is probably worth the price for that alone. However, it’s not as strong as I’d like with respect to launching products on Amazon. It covers the basics, and isn’t bad, but I don’t have enough confidence to say that the course will effectively keep up to date with frequent changes at Amazon. Even if Manuel were able to keep all the information up to date, I’d want to see a more active community before I could recommend it as a comprehensive Amazon course.
From what I can tell, Manuel seems like a pretty genuine guy and hands on. I trust his expertise and desire to help people given how comprehensive his Case Study is. I don’t know if he has partners behind the scenes, but it appears that he is behind everything. While he has done a generally good job, managing a course takes a lot of resources and the best ones I’ve seen tend to have multiple partners. For that reason, I don’t expect he’ll be able to improve the Amazon side of things considerably. I could be wrong, but that’s my sense.
I was hoping I could recommend it as a reasonably priced alternative to some of the more expensive Amazon private label courses, but you’ll be disappointed if you buy it with that in mind as it just isn’t robust enough.
Ultimately, if your goal is to learn how to sell on Amazon, I would probably recommend Marketplace Superheroes because it’s’ stronger all around. Import Dojo complements other courses, so it’s a worthwhile purchase for those who have the budget and want more in depth info specifically on sourcing/importing. I’m extremely happy I own it for that reason. You just have to be aware of what you’re getting.
Again, given that I’m recommending Import Dojo Masterclass as an importing resource, and NOT as an Amazon Seller course, I don’t think an active community is as important. It seems like all questions get answered, which is the most critical aspect, but there are just fewer discussions.
I wholeheartedly recommend either the Masterclass or Brand Evolution options for the price because I know how complicated the importing process can be, but don’t buy either one if you’re looking for more than that.