How My Chapped Lips and MBA Inspired My Amazon Business

Entrepreneurship and strategy opened new doors

I grew tired of forgetting my lip balm at home, knowing that it would result in me having a full day of dry, chapped lips. That discomfort motivated me to look for a better solution.  

Antonio Hurtado selling Nueve lip balm at farmer's market
Alumnus Antonio Hurtado (left) and Martin Rosas (right) selling Nueve during Sacramento’s Second Saturday. 

As a UC Davis MBA student, I took Vanessa Errecarte’s Strategic Branding course, which provided the empowerment and perspective I needed to find the solution. She encouraged us to reflect on our lives and look for products that we use daily and that have room for improvement. Lip balms immediately came to mind.  

I began desperately seeking long-lasting, natural solutions and could only find women’s brands to fit my needs. I spent $400 on lip balm products and was not satisfied. Many of the products on the market were either too glossy, had harsh preservatives, or wouldn’t last or hydrate your lips. After much frustration, I set out to fix it using my newly acquired skills from the MBA program.  

Applying My MBA to My New Business 

The goal was to create the longest-lasting, 100% natural lip balm, with subtle flavoring and a matte finish. I researched ingredients, played with formulas, and finally found manufacturing partners. 

All of this led up to the launch of our Nueve Lip Balm with a hint of vanilla. A premium balm made of high-quality, easy-to-understand ingredients. Our blend of plant-based oils and beeswax is a long-lasting formula that leaves lips feeling soft, moisturized, and protected all day. 

Kicking Off My E-commerce Business with Amazon 

I knew from the beginning that Amazon was going to be an important sales channel for the Nueve brand. I also knew I was going to need help with fulfillment. Luckily, the Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) program is available for e-commerce businesses. Amazon houses the product in bulk and fulfills orders from customers. 

Amazon can be intimidating for a first-time user. Here are some tips I’ve learned to help you on your e-commerce journey. 

Antonio Hurtado applying Nueve lip balm
Antonio Hurtado incorporating Nueve into his lifestyle and modeling the product while hiking. 

Tips to Increase Sales on Amazon 

  • Build hype online by teasing your product launch weeks in advance 
  • Write fully thought-out content under the “About This Item” and “Product Description” sections in the Amazon listing 
  • Aim for seven pictures and a video of your product on your listing 
  • Create engagement between shoppers by soliciting at least 10 reviews and answering 10 questions as quickly as possible  
  • Trademark your brand to leverage a whole suite of tools that will help you stand out from the competition  
  • Leverage data analytic software like Helium 10 and Jungle Scout to provide data insights and make informed decisions regarding your online marketplace 

Opening Doors Beyond Product Management 

I decided to enroll in the Graduate School of Management because I originally wanted a career in product management. I knew that my engineering background paired with an MBA would differentiate me from other candidates in the job market.

The MBA experience allowed me to dive deep into strategy and entrepreneurship over two years, allowing me to explore my options and launch a successful new business.