First Movers: Daren Garcia
DAREN GARCIA is a partner in Vorys eControl, the world’s leading provider of online sales control solutions that drive brand value.
Through an unmatched combination of technology, data and professional services, Vorys eControl designs and implements solutions for brands in the areas of channel management, stopping unauthorized sales, pricing policy programs and brand protection, among others, both domestically and internationally.
Daren works with brands across the world in strategically designing eControl programs to meet their unique commercial needs and goals.
Why did you choose to pursue eCommerce in your career? I fell into it kind of by chance. I saw some of the amazing things that my partner, Whitney Gibson, was doing for brands, I had some things wind down that I was working on at the time, and I said that I would jump in. That was the best decision of my career – what I found was something exciting, fast paced, each year increasingly important to manufacturers and brands, and where the playbook was being written by current practitioners.
What is your biggest strength, and how have you used it for your success in eCommerce? This is more a function of training in my prior professional life, rather than an inherent strength. However, litigators, in presenting a case, are often required to translate complex issues and facts into easily understood stories. This has been very useful as we work with companies at an enterprise level (sales, eCommerce, C-Suite, legal) to educate them on relevant online marketplace dynamics at issue, as well as the multi-faceted, solution-based approach they need to take to solve for their challenges.
What is the weirdest skill or talent to come in handy in your eCommerce experience? Ever since I was a kid, I have always been curious about brands of all kinds – how is this one different from the next one, what does that do, what is the story behind this product and the next. Thus, while I don’t personally own most of the brands we represent, I am often aware of them and able to relate some personal observations or experience to the brand teams we work with. It’s a nice icebreaker.
How have you most successfully influenced change within your organization (or with your clients)? In terms of influencing change within our manufacturer and brand clients, I think that Vorys eControl pioneered the online sales control category and has been instrumental in educating companies on critical role that control plays in driving profitable growth – both online and offline – in today’s market. Often this concept is very different from how they have done business for generations – i.e., widely distributing products with little to no downstream resale controls. It can be a big philosophical shift, but companies typically don’t go back to their old ways once they make the necessary changes.
What was your most “valuable” career failure, and why? Not having another years-long big piece of litigation immediately on-deck years ago when I started working with the team that would become Vorys eControl. As a traditional lawyer at the time, it was a bit stressful not knowing exactly where I would devote my time in the coming year, but it allowed me to pause, look around, and see opportunity in an entirely-new area.
In the last five years, what new belief, behavior or habit has most improved your life? Over the past couple of years, I have really tried hard to simplify my life. I have a wonderful wife and three young children (6 and under) and our work is very demanding. The time constraints have forced me to focus on what is the most impactful thing I can do at any given time with respect to my family, my work and my health, and, simultaneously, what is not essential or not a big value add, that I should edit out. Looking back 10 years ago, I was much more unfocused in this respect and probably wasted time on things that didn’t matter to what was really important to me. So, I would summarize the above as “an intentional focus on essentialism”!
What are you learning right now? Everyday, we are learning something new about a marketplace, a country’s laws, a new way in which brands’ strategies are being disrupted by a lack of control, and more. The exciting thing about all of this, again, is that it is playing out before our eyes.
What are the 1-3 songs that would make up your career soundtrack today?
Two bits of context: (1) the first 12 or so years of my career were spent as a large law firm litigation lawyer representing retailers – I began working with Whitney Gibson in the early days of Vorys eControl, got a taste for eCommerce. I have never looked back and simultaneously feel every day like we’re just getting started; (2) I am a big Rolling Stones fan. So, a song on my current career soundtrack would be Start Me Up by the Stones.
What are the 1-3 books you’ve gifted the most or that have greatly influenced your life, and why?
Clayton Christensen’s The Innovator’s Dilemmawas pretty thought provoking for me, professionally, and I’ve suggested it to a number of my team members. I have also enjoyed and recommended Essentialismby Greg McKeown.
If you could have a gigantic billboard for the world to see with anything on it, what would it say, and why? “Keep Moving!”
In my experience, whether you are working in eCommerce, or just trying to get through life as best you can, many challenges can be overcome and successes had if you just simply refuse to stop moving towards where you want to be – learning, acting, building, testing, iterating…just don’t stop moving.
What are the worst recommendations or advice you have heard related to eCommerce? Here are a couple:
- When someone internal in an organization suggests – or as is sometimes the case, forcefully argues – that a brand should have [insert some large number] of sellers on Amazon.
- When vendors suggest that online sales control and unauthorized sales problems can be solved by “MAP” and some software, too.
- When others suggest that unauthorized sales can be stopped with scary emails or marketplace policy takedowns. Each of these three pieces of advice – if followed – end either in failure or in some other state far short of optimal.
What advice would you give to a future leader of change about to enter business, or specifically the eCommerce field? You picked an amazing area – there are so many potential waves to ride. Next, see response to my gigantic billboard question above. Good luck!
What specific, industry-related change do you believe will happen that few others seem to see? Where we sit in Vorys eControl, we see time and again that the companies best able to exert appropriate control over their online sales – determining where, how and by whom their products will be sold online – have the best commercial outcomes in the online marketplace channels. Control is a key building block for profitable growth in eCommerce. Companies over the coming years will need to intentionally define and implement their global online marketplace control strategy to best benefit from the massive growth of online marketplaces around the world.
What is the last thing you bought online, and why? I bought a couple pairs of jeans the other day. It doesn’t seem like we’ll be back to suits for some time, so I figured that I should stock up.
First Movers is a change leader interview series featuring select industry pioneers who are boldly driving the evolution of digital commerce, the consumer and everything in between.