Zilis was founded in 2015 in Texas. The word Zilis, comes from Swahili words, which translate to ‘multiplying nutrition’. The produce a range of water soluble Zilis Ultra products, which are all hemp based. Like Hempworx, they claim that the industry will grow by 700% by the end of 2020 (around 2 years from when they made the claim).
Rather than using traditional methods, Zilis sell their products through a network of ‘Independent Ambassadors’. Here at The Finance Guy, we believe that you can’t make money with MLM, but in this full review of Zilis, we’ll give them a chance to prove us wrong. We’ll take a closer look at the Zilis opportunity, and find out if this is a legitimate money maker, or just another MLM
What is the Zilis Opportunity
According to the official Zilis opportunity page, Zilis is ‘a unique model that offers the greatest financial opportunities in the social marketing world today’. Now we’ve heard similar claims from most MLMs we’ve reviewed, but we’ll see if this one turns out to be true.
Zilis tell us that in this fast growing industy, they are giving ‘everyone the opportunity to build long-term successful businesses, and be prosperous’. It goes on to tell us that this is a great time to join Zilis. The page left us feeling like we hadn’t actually learned anything, so we also looked at this video of the Zilis opporutnity:
The first half of this video tells us all about how wonderful the Zilis Ultra cell products are. They explain that they have ‘new science’ which has discovered that CBD is actually an essential system in the human body.
Zilis then tell us that because of their superior extraction methods, they get better quality CBD oils. They even explain that because of the wide range of ingredients they extract, their products have an ‘entourage effect’.
We were curious, so we looked up the entourage effect ourselves. It turns out that it has more to do with the counteracting the negative effects of THC. This is interesting to us because these CBD products don’t have significant amounts of THC.
The second half of the video, tells us about their ‘very unique career path’ available to you with Zilis. It claims that all you have to do is build two teams (one left and one right), then let the system duplicate.
We decided to look for more information, so we read through the Zilis compensation plan. This document explains all the ways Zilis ambassadors can earn money, and what they need to do to earn it.
Like the video, the compensation plan starts off telling us about the Zilis career path. They say that the success of Zilis Ambassadors is their priority. The compensation plan uses powerful direct selling structures. They call it a ‘strong recipe for Ambassadors to achieve success’.
We then hear about the ‘Pay it Forward’ motto, where Zilis donate a portion of all sales toward feeding children in need. It’s nice to know that they have charitable activities. Having said that, the focus of this review is whether or not becoming a Zilis Ambassador is a good business opportunity.
The compensation plan explains that there is 7 ways to earn with Zilis. We’ll go through them each below:
This is the profit you make when you sell products to retail customers. Zilis call this ‘the foundation’ of your business. Zilis say you can earn up to 100% retail profit. They then explain that your customers can get a discount of 50% if they sign up for autoship and become ‘preferred customers’. They do not explain retail profit in more detail than that. This is a concern to us because we don’t understand exactly what you earn from each type of customer.
Fast Start Bonus
When you personally sponsor a new Zilis Ambassador, you can earn a fast start bonus. The amount you earn, depends on which starter pack they purchase. The amounts paid for each starter pack are shown below:
We’d like to point out that if you join Zilis, it is in your sponsor’s best interest for you to join on the most expensive starter pack. If you join with the basic $99 pack, they get no Fast Start Bonus. If you pay $1,299 for the Gold starter pack, they’ll get a bonus of $130. Don’t feel pressured to join on a more expensive pack if you don’t want to. At the end of the day, if the system really works, then you’ll make your way to a residual income from any starter pack
Binary Team Builder
Depending on your rank with Zilis, you can earn up to $25,000 per week from this bonus. Like the fast start bonus, this commission is calculated from the start up packs of new Ambassadors in your downline. The main difference is that you earn this form Ambassadors who were sponsored from people other than you in your downline.
The binary system means you have a left leg and a right leg. Your binary team building commission can be as much as 20% of the Business Volume (BV) from the smaller of your legs. The % and the maximum team builder commission you can earn per week, is based on your rank with Zilis. This is shown in the diagram below:
As we can see, if you are a relatively new Ambassador, at the ‘associate’ rank, you can only earn $250 per week at 10%. If you make it all the way to ‘Triple Diamond’, you can earn up to $25,000 per week at 20%.
It’s important to remember that if you are are about to join Zilis, then all these bonuses are included in your starter pack price. Your sponsor and everyone in their upline will encourage you to join at the gold level because up to 30% of the starter pack cost goes to your upline as commission.
If you happen to earn a Binary Team Builder commission, then you will notice that you are only paid the balance on your weaker leg. This means that you will be left with some unused BV on your stronger leg. Not to worry, Zilis lets you roll over up to 1 Million points of BV on your strong leg as ‘stored volume’. All you have to do is remain active with 100 BV on autoship, and 150 in other BV. This may sound reasonable, but it could also sound like Zilis is encouraging over-consumption of their products.
Infinity Fast Start
This is just like the fast start bonus, except it’s only available to Zilis Ambassadors who have reached the leadership ranks. Once you reach the rank of ‘Area’, or above, you can start earning these bonuses when you personally enrol new ambassadors. The amount you can earn is shown below:
These generous bonuses are designed to ensure that once Ambassadors reach the leadership ranks, they keep recruiting. However for us it is a concern because these bonuses are included in the price of all Zilis starter packs
This is what is known in the MLM industry as residual income. Essentially you can earn commission on all the volume generated from everyone you recruit, as well as everyone they recruit down to 6 generations. The amount you can earn at each generation depends on your rank in the Zilis system, and is shown below:
As we can see, once you reach the ‘National’ rank, you can earn a total of 24% in commission from 6 generations. The problem with this is that these commissions are based on the wholesale BV paid by Ambassadors. In other words 24% of the price paid by Zilis Ambassadors goes to their upline as commision.
Infinity Matching Bonus
This is another bonus that is only available to those who reach the leadership ranks. If someone you personally sponsor reaches the same rank as you, then Zilis will pay you a matching bonus. The amount you earn, as always, depends on your rank, as shown below:
As we can see, start earning matching bonuses once you reach the ‘area’ rank. Once you reach the ‘Presedential’ rank, the matching bonus reaches the maximum of 40%. Remember that there is a total of 24% in generational bonuses. So with a some maths, we worked out that the infinity bonus pays up to 9.6% on BV. Once again, this is included in the wholesale price. Therefore, we calculate that 33.6% of the price paid by Zilis Ambassadors goes to their upline as commission.
Zilis offers some other benefits, which don’t come in the form of direct payment. One they call a ‘Blessing benefit’, where Zilis will donate to a charitable cause in your community on a monthly basis. Another offers reimbursements on health insurance premiums. There’s even a Jeep bonus, where depending on your rank, Zilis will contribute between $400 and $1,200 a month toward your lease or loan payment on a Zilis Jeep.
Global Bonus Pool
Every 3 months Zilis pays out 2% of all Volume to qualifying Ambassadors ranked ‘Regional’ or higher. As always this bonus is loaded into the wholesale price, making the products 2% more expensive.
How Do You Get Promoted With Zilis
As we saw from the compensation plan, your rank as a Zilis Ambassador is an important factor in how much you can earn. The higher your rank, the better your earning potential. It’s important to understand what you need to do if you want to climb those ranks. Below is a chart showing all the Zilis Ambassador ranks, as well as what you need to do to qualify for each:
As we can see, getting promoted with Zilis comes down to growing your downline. As you continue to personally sponsor new Ambassadors and increase your sponsor tree volume, you should climb the ranks. It is interesting to see that there is also a requirement to grow your personal volume (PV).
How Much Are Zilis Ambassadors Earning
We found a copy of the Zilis Income Disclosure Statement. Unfortunately they have not given us much information. They claim that as of April 2016, the company was too new, so all they could tell us was that according to industry standards, they expect Zilis Ambassadors to earn less than $300 per year.
Despite the fact that they now have over 3 years of data, Zilis has not released an up to date income disclosure. This could be an oversight, or it could be that the actual data shows that most Zilis Ambassadors lose money
Why is it Hard to Make Money With Zilis
We believe that the problem is not unique to Zilis. The problem is with the business model. In his book, Multi-level Marketing Unmasked, Jon Taylor found that 99.7% of people who join direct selling companies end up losing money. Despite what you hear in the sales pitches, it is highly unlikely that you will make money from any network marketing company.
Network marketing is a way for companies to sell products without employing a sales force and without having to spend money on traditional advertising and promotions. Instead they build a network of loyal ‘Ambassadors’, who are willing to pay unusually high prices for the added hopes and dreams of financial freedom.
Dr. Taylor has also provided a 5 Step MLM evaluation, which is designed to show you if you have a chance of turning a profit with any MLM opportunity. We looked at each of the 5 flags for Zilis, as shown below:
Red Flag 1 - Constant Recruitment of New Members and Red Flag 2 - Promotion Through Recruitment
The fast start bonuses are a direct incentive for all Ambassadors to keep recruiting. On top of this, to maintain any rank in Zilis, you need to have a minimum number of personally sponsored Ambassadors.
While it may be enough in theory to just recruit a few friends. In reality you will need to constantly recruit to replace those that either become inactive or quit altogether.
The Zilis compensation plan is designed to encourage constant recruitment of new Ambassadors. Further you can not climb the ranks unless you are personally recruiting new Zilis Ambassadors.
Red Flag 3 - Pay to Play
To remain active and to qualify for commission, you need to buy enough Zilis products to meet the PV quota at each rank. This often leads to members of MLMs purchasing more product than they can personally consume or sell to retail customers. They are buying product in order to play the MLM system, not because they need or want more product.
Red Flag 4 - Most of the Rewards go to your upline
If you an ‘associate’ with Zilis, you can only earn 5% in generational bonuses from 1 level. An additional 19% will be paid to people in 5 levels above you in your upline. On top of this another 2% of the wholesale price goes toward paying the top levels in the system their infinity bonuses.
Unfortunately most people never make to the senior levels of an MLM. Therefore the majority of Ambassadors are earning more for their upline than they are for themselves.
Red Flag 5 - More than 5 levels in the payout plan
Dr Taylor says 'Excessive levels in a downline is another sign participants are expected to sell primarily to their downline, rather than to the general public. This makes it an exploitative money transfer scheme, or product-based pyramid scheme'.
As we have demonstrated, Zilis raises all 5 red flags in Dr Taylor’s evaluation. According to his research, your chances of making money as a Zilis Ambassador are less than 1 in 100
Is Zilis an Illegal Pyramid Scam
Even though MLMs closely resemble pyramid schemes, they are not illegal. The reason dates back to the 1979 case of Amway vs the FTC. After 4 years in court Amway was found to be offering a business opportunity, rather than a pyramid scam. The technicalities came down to wording in their paperwork. One example requires consultants to make retail sales.
The Amway ruling effectively opened the doors for all other MLMs to operate within the law. However we should remember that being legal doesn’t make it ethical. If you knew that less than 1% of people had a chance of generating a real income, would you feel comfortable recruiting new consultants?
Another issue, is that even though these rules may be in the paperwork, they are difficult to enforce. For example, several people in MLMs have said that they have cupboards full of product. This is because of the minimum monthly purchases they need to make to remain active in the system. Even though stockpiling is against the rules, there is no way for the company to monitor it.
Should You Join Zilis
We think that the only reason to join any MLM, is if you are already using their products, and are happy enough to recommend them to others. At the end of the day, you can’t make money in MLM unless you make a lot of sales.
If you are a good salesperson, and you have the ability to be part of the 1% who turn a profit in Zilis, then we suggest that you look at all your options before becoming an Ambassador. It’s quite likely that you can make more money in a regular sales job than you would in the Zilis opportunity.
As always, we’d love to hear what you think in the comments section below, especially if you an share your experiences with Zilis
Are you wondering if you can make money in an MLM? Check our our list of mlm reviews before you join. If you find one that’s not on the list, let us know and we’ll do our best to write a review