Veteran Entrepreneur Spotlight:

Jon Stojan

You run a business with a product. 

A good product your customers love. Unfortunately, it’s been slow growing. You’ve found some success with pop-up shops and getting your product in some local stores. But you can’t seem to get in the door with a big box retailer, and your few attempts with the big online marketplaces have failed to cut through the noise. Business has plateaued, and you’re not really sure how to fix it.

What you need is some real expertise.

When it comes to online marketplaces like Amazon, if you’re not on page one of the search results, you’re not in the game at all. But getting there is easier said than done. Jon Stojan and First North Marketing specialize in getting your product in front of your ideal online customers at Amazon.

Jon knows how to do it because he’s done it for his own company and many others. First North Marketing can optimize your product pages for Amazon SEO and customer acquisition, design and execute product launches, and so much more to get your product in front of the people who are searching every day for solutions to the problem your product addresses.

Jon’s Military Experience

Jon signed up for ROTC as a way to pay for college and get some life experience before he joined the professional world. Early in the program, the first day he got his uniform, in fact, the tragic events of September 11th unfolded. Initially joining with the intent of being a reservist, Jon instead changed paths to become an active-duty Air Force Intelligence Officer.

Jon served on active duty from 2005-2009, and transitioned to reserve duty after his first child was born. He completed 5 deployments to the Middle East from 2007-2016 in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom, and Inherent Resolve.

His work largely centered around cargo aircraft, ensuring logistics lines remained safe and secure and minimizing vulnerabilities. He also helped plan and execute operations at new logistics landing sites for troop insertion and resupply. He is still an active reservist, and has attained the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

Entrepreneurial Spirit

Jon Stojan always wanted to be an entrepreneur, since he was 9 years old trading baseball cards with his friends. In 2017, Jon launched an ecommerce brand with a successful Kickstarter that raised just over $10,000 to get him started. During this time, Jon learned the intricacies of marketing and positioning his brand on Amazon to optimize sales. He went on to turn it into a six-figure brand in just a couple years.

When the pandemic hit hard in early 2020, Jon had friends in the packaged food industry that were panicking. Their wholesale orders to grocery store chains were down 80-90%, and their businesses were suffering or on the verge of collapse.

Jon recognized that many of them could shift to an Amazon sales strategy and recoup a lot of that business. He explained it to them, happy to share information that could keep good people in business. Many of them had tried Amazon before, with little to no success at cutting through the noise. But they knew Jon was doing well on Amazon, and after hearing his advice and strategies, asked if Jon would take care of their Amazon sales for them.

Jon used all the tips and best practices he had learned along the way to get his first client to the front page of Amazon for their first Amazon product launch. After that, another half dozen clients emerged looking to have similar success, and First North Marketing was born. As the business grew, Jon pivoted to working on his agency full time.

 

Connecting With Bunker Labs

Jon was aware of Bunker Labs for quite some time, attending local Minneapolis, MN networking events after launching his ecommerce brand company. Not long after pivoting to First North Marketing, Jon joined the Veterans in Residence (ViR) 22A cohort.

First North Marketing was doing pretty well before Jon joined ViR, but almost all of his business came from referrals. He had noticed business starting to plateau, and knew he needed to change something in his sales strategy. He credits his time in ViR with helping him systemize a sales process from initial outreach all the way to client onboarding.

Jon enjoyed the Bunker Labs experience so much, he stayed on as an Alumni Captain for the 22B cohort.

 

There’s just this great systematic process in Veterans in Residence where you say hey, here’s this business problem I’m having. And then your peers focus on you and give you potential solutions to think about, complete with some next steps or resources. I thought that process was incredibly valuable and helps problem-solve those roadblocks that we all run into trying to grow our businesses.”

Jon Stojan

CEO, First North Marketing

Pushing Past Plateaus

Today, First North Marketing is growing. They’re adding clients and growing their team at a  healthy pace. Jon is taking opportunities to start conversations and educate current and prospective clients about how to rank higher on Amazon and better understand the challenges and opportunities with selling online.

To that end, First North Marketing released a free mini-course called Amazon Conversion Hero to the public. This course shows Amazon sellers how to get customers’ attention and identify the best keywords to drive more sales.

Jon has also begun experimenting with strategic use of AI-powered tools to draw insights from reviews and other bulk data faster. First North Marketing is growing, and Jon is excited for all the opportunities the future holds!

It’s Your Time

Veterans in Residence is a peer-facilitated, six-month business incubator that provides veteran and military spouse entrepreneurs a networking community, business skills, and opportunities to help grow their business.

Breaking Barriers in Entrepreneurship is a virtual workshop series that facilitates business growth and support within AAPI, Black, Latinx, and female veteran and military spouse communities. The eight-week workshop is designed to create an immediate impact for early to growth-stage businesses by providing access to business tools, resources, capital opportunities, mentorship, and a stronger peer network!

As of January 2024, Bunker Labs is now a part of Syracuse University’s D’Aniello Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF). In addition to ongoing Bunker Labs programming, we’d encourage you to browse IVMF’s deep wealth of entrepreneurship programming, much of it available virtually or at locations across the country. Find the program to help your business take the next step today!