We talked with Mischo Kopac over a year ago in an exciting interview about his first steps as a digital nomad. At that time, he ventured to live completely location-independently with his company Lebenslauf Designs – and that with great success. So we are very much looking forward hearing from him, what happened in the meantime…
Great you‘re taking the time for a second interview to tell us more about your life. During our first interview, you were in Melbourne. Where are you now and what trips have you planned for this year?
Hi Eric, it’s a pleasure to be here, thank you. A week ago, I landed in Cape Town, South Africa, where I‘m going to spend the next two months. Right now, I am sitting on my sunny balcony at the foot of Table Mountain, surrounded by palm trees and cactuses, enjoying a wonderful view on the Atlantic Ocean. Over the Christmas holidays I will be back in Berlin, visiting friends and family.
Lebenslauf Designs – an online offering for individual resume templates, targeted at the German market – was your breakthrough. What happened next? Did sales grow even further or did the market environment become more difficult?
Actually, the market got more competitive, but lebenslaufdesigns.de made its way. Since we spoke last time a year ago, the number of visitors has increased by 50%. Last month, the website reached over 200.000 people and is now one of the most visited online platforms about how to write a job application in the German-speaking market. The success of Lebenslauf Designs allows me to have a very pleasant lifestyle 🙂
How did you grow the project further and what marketing strategies did you follow?
I just started working location-independently in May 2016. So as I started traveling the world, work took a back seat and I enjoyed my newly won freedom. My business is 99% automated. That is why I only need about 1h per week to keep it running. So in 2016, I only worked intermittently, in short intense phases, focusing mainly on building collaborations in the industry. In the beginning of 2017, I spent three months at the remote coast of Ecuador where I fully reengaged with my work. During this time, I designed new resume templates, created new content and improved the website’s structure. My marketing strategy focused on creating high quality products and content to increase sales per visitor and visibility on Google even further.
By now you have gathered some experience living as a digital nomad. What difficulties did you have to deal with?
Maybe the most rewarding and at the same time challenging thing about changing your location frequently, is the constant flexibility and willingness to adapt, which you have to develop to really be open and get deeply involved in new situations, people and cultures — and on the other hand the challenge to keep routines in place. I always plan ahead, to have things in order and predictable – routines are very important for me to be productive. While traveling however, many plans and preconceptions get thrown out the window because our own imagination can’t fully keep up with the new reality – things just don’t work out as we thought for whatever reason. No matter how much you plan and predict, there is always an unknown. If you are willing to step out of your comfort zone however, be open to the new and accept the resulting stress as a natural part of it, not resisting and keeping yourself from burying your head in the sand right away, new and wonderful worlds open up.
Take for example the challenge to build routines in new environments. Most of my routines don’t change, they are the same activities only in different environments. One of the things that I do regularly is going for a run. When I am looking for a new place to live, it’s very important to me I can go for a run there. So I am actively looking for environments where I can easily implement my routines. Here in Cape Town, I can go running in the mountains or along the beachfront, even a better environment than back home in Berlin. Therefore, whenever I relocate, I am asking myself which activities are important to me right now and fit the environment accordingly. This way, I can create the conditions which are most facilitating to those activities and be extremely productive. After a week of readjusting to Cape Town, I already feel like a fish in the sea.
Some things don’t turn out as you planned, especially when booking an apartment, for say 3 months, from few thousand miles away, but often times those new places have new opportunities which you were not even aware of before, which match your interests. The biggest challenge is staying open and engaging with those opportunities, despite the urge to go back to the old routine. We tend to want to control life, but new things can only come from the unknown, the uncertain, the chaos, something outside of what we have seen, noticed or known. Traveling is a great way to be surrounded by many new things by default. Keeping the balance between maintaining key routines and new input is always a challenge.
And what were the highlights? 🙂
There were so many unforgettable moments… Having met some wonderful people who I now feel blessed to call my friends is definitely on the top of my list. Far up is also the experience of going on a 10-days silent Vipassana-Meditation-Retreat, 8 days at the world’s biggest Swing dance festival in Herräng, Sweden, starting a new company with one of my best and oldest friends and the summer in Berlin.
Recently, you have started a second company called Good Pineapple with your co-founder James Bates. Good Pineapple is a social-ecommerce-business. What is your concept?
Good Pineapple combines ecommerce with a good cause. We are selling toiletry travel bags in six different colors. Each color represents a different charitable cause. With each sale, we donate 10% to the corresponding charity. The charitable organizations we work with are established organizations with many years of experience. Our causes are Cancer Support, Clean Water, Fighting World Hunger, Prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease, Protection of the Environment and Helping Children in Need. Our products can be found at goodpineapple.de and we currently sell mainly through Amazon and only in Germany.
With Good Pineapple, we wanted to create a business that is making the world a better place and being for profit at the same time. There is this perceived gap between „Entrepreneur“ and „Philanthropist“ and the tendency in new organizations to decide between the two. As James‘ background is in non-profit management and personally, starting a social business has always been on my agenda, we questioned that assumption and decided to combine the two.
To sell a product on Amazon with your own brand using FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon) – this has become a trend in the last 2-3 years. But it’s not as easy as often described on the internet. What tips do you have?
Use your brain and do not outsource everything right from the start. One of the biggest mistakes is relying on other people’s thinking, especially the so called „experts“ who make everything seem so easy just to sell their products. Learn what it takes to create a winning product and how to sell it well on Amazon, dive in deep, ask lots of questions, question the answers. Talk to people without an Amazon background about what makes quality products and learn about selling. If you only talk to people from your field or industry you will get very similar input because often those people have the same sources of information. Amazon is just a marketplace. There are Amazon-specific-things to pay attention to but the dynamics are very similar to other places where people buy and sell goods, just on a huge scale and online. Learn about marketing and how your product would fit in the market. Create something better for a price people are willing to pay. Get lots of feedback. Choosing the right market, product and supplier are prerequisites for being successful on Amazon. Take the time to do proper research because if you start selling and notice your costs are too high, or what you assumed makes your product better is actually not what people are willing to pay more money for, these are mistakes which are very difficult to fix afterwards.
How much did you invest to start Good Pineapple and what are the next steps?
I’m not going to drop numbers here but we did not start small. We started with three different toiletry bag models, so basically three different products. In the first two months of selling we already sold about 1.000 units, which is encouraging. But there is still a lot to optimize and we, of course, aim much higher.
As many entrepreneurs you are interested in „Mindset Development“. What do you do to become more focused, energetic and happy?
In general, I try to challenge my mind and continuously learn new things like playing a musical instrument or practice a new language. What works best for me is to focus on the parts of the experience that are really fun to me personally and first only do these. For example, when I learned playing the piano, I did not bother learning how to read notes on paper, I just started experimenting with the sounds of the different keys. I tried to make them sound harmonious together and then to make them sound like a song. When learning something new, I focus less on measurable progress at first but on making the activity enjoyable. That way, it becomes much easier to do it regularly and to make it into a routine.
In general, doing something or learning something I feel passionate about is my secret recipe for being happy. And when I am happy, I have lots of energy anyways. All the other tactics like eating well and working out are all great additions but the foundation to happiness is doing something every day in which you are really engaged in.
Doing the 10-Day Vipassana-Meditation had a big impact on my ability to be in control of my mind and to focus better. I would recommend everyone to try this. It is on donation basis and they have centers all around the world: http://www.dhamma.org/en
Mischo, thank you for your insights. This was an exciting year! I am looking forward what the future holds and what else we will hear from you.