Born in Victoria, BC, Adrian Pereira grew up on a small cul-de sac around the corner from his school. He was raised by two incredibly hard-working parents who immigrated to Canada and to this day model hard work, innovation and creative thinking. As a child, Adrian would spend a significant amount of his time playing street hockey with his brothers and the neighbourhood kids. Many of these friends he continues to play hockey with as an adult.
Adrian attended the University of Victoria majoring in Computer Science. During his years in university, he also worked for UVic, Motorola and the Department of National Defense.
Also while attending UVic, Adrian built one of his first businesses from scratch, HockeyDraft.ca. Tired of manually calculating hockey pool stats using the newspaper, Adrian built a site that would automatically manage all aspects of a hockey pool, saving people hours of weekly work. Almost two decades later, HockeyDraft.ca has been used by millions of Canadians and he continues to run it today, predominantly on auto-pilot.
It is unclear which of his passions is stronger: sports or spreadsheets. These co-passions led him to create another online sports company, eDraft.com, which provides fantasy sports data analytics to fans. Adrian also made an investment and joined the board of a little-known Victoria company called SendToNews. Years later, SendToNews ranks #1 in digital sports video views, ahead of the behemoth, ESPN.
From the early days of internet marketing, he has proved himself to be a quick learner and perpetual student. Adrian’s wife refers to him as a serial entrepreneur – If he has an idea, he educates himself on the topic, figures out how to build it, grow it and bring in people that can help elevate it.
His latest endeavour is a co-venture with his wife, Kelly: The Eco Pea Company. True to form, Adrian built this company from the ground up to resolve a health issue that his daughter was experiencing. She had recurring reactions to numerous diaper brands on the market and his family couldn’t find a solution that worked. Adrian dove in and started researching, testing and and figured out a solution to this need. Now with 4 warehouses in North America and a thriving direct-to-consumer business, Eco Pea Co’s brand is recognized for being natural, safe and environmentally friendly.
He feels incredibly fortunate to be raising his three children in the same beautiful town in which he was raised. Dinner table conversation is often led by his children pitching inventions and ideas. A common theme is how they can make a difference, which is a testament to him as an entrepreneur and a father.
Where did the idea for The Eco Pea Company come from?
When my wife was pregnant with our third, we naively thought that this would be easier… Get through the sleep deprivation and then it would be a dance. Well, then she was born and we were outnumbered with three kids under 5. Kindergarten and preschool starts. And THE RASH. You name it, we tried it: ointments, dietary restrictions, doctors, naturopaths, and more ointments. That poor little bum! We tried a variety of diapers and the rash seemed to grow or shrink depending on the brand. This planted a seed. As we say to our kids “It all starts with an idea….” What if we can fix this? And in we dove. After heaps of research, testing, and such, we found that the rash would become non-existent when using natural, higher quality materials. So my wife and I decided to go for it and create the absolutely healthiest product we could. We didn’t want to stop there though. Children’s health is our top priority. Our values really informed our path. To us, it would make little sense to have a diaper that was great for the child’s health but potentially detrimental to the planet. Armed with these two non-negotiables, we decided we could go further. We didn’t want to sacrifice anything – we wanted this diaper to be healthier, better for the planet, but also actually feel softer, more absorbent, more functional, everything! We included a wetness indicator, blowout guard, size label (great when you have multiple kids), water-based ink and a super absorbent core. Our diapers are made with bamboo that has been sustainably harvested and processed without chemicals using steam, and they feel as soft as cloth diapers. I think we’ve achieved our goal of having a healthy, environmentally friendly, luxuriously soft diaper that works. And THE RASH is gone.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My days are always mixed with family and work. I try to find balance in life. To me, there is nothing more important than being around those you love. If I need a break, I kick a soccer ball around with my son, play tag with my daughter, or find myself in a pillow fort surrounded with stuffies with my youngest. A typical day consists of emails, zoom meetings, spreadsheets, website enhancements, and other initiatives that move a business forward.
How do you bring ideas to life?
In order to bring an idea to life, there will usually be hundreds of little goals and milestones that you need to get done along the way. I like to analyze the idea, learn all I can about what it would take to get there, prioritize those tasks, and then dive in. I’m a spreadsheet type of guy and love to tackle projects and problems from an analytical point of view.
What’s one trend that excites you?
The Direct to Consumer trend is very exciting! From a brand’s perspective, there is no middleman. You get to build relationships directly with your audience which is super powerful. You get direct feedback from your customers and can really build a community of fans that share similar values and help fuel your marketing.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Did I mention spreadsheets? Feed me data, data and more data, please! The more information you have, the more ways you can analyze things, and the easier it is to make a well-informed decision.
What advice would you give your younger self?
If you can, work on projects that you love. More often than not, the projects that you feel are interesting, fun or engaging, are the ones that will grow into something special. You will end up putting more into it and will likely get more out of it too. If you would be a customer of your own product, that is a really good sign, as you’d likely be in it to win it. Also, don’t be afraid of diving into new areas. We’re living in a time where information on almost any subject is readily available. It’s not all that challenging to find people that have the knowledge and expertise that can help you achieve the task at hand.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Learn from other brands. Each unique brand has things they do very well and things they don’t. Pick and choose the things that you love about other brands, whether they’re in your vertical or not, and try and implement it in a similar fashion. Whether it’s the way they handle customer support, the styles of adverting they utilize, or any other aspect of their business. Chances are they’ve spent a lot of money testing and figuring things out, so why go through all of that pain and cost? Learn from the companies you admire but add your brand’s own flare so that you’re using a winning formula while still making it your own.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
We decided we didn’t want to sacrifice quality and compete with all of the generic brands on price. We knew making our products healthier and more environmentally friendly would cost significantly more but we felt customers would be willing to spend more for that added value.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Sometimes people take on too many things at once and that’s something I’ve been guilty of as well. It’s challenging to have a meaningful impact on a business when you simply don’t have the cycles required to digest and analyze things effectively.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Printables seems like such a great business model. If you hired a graphic designer they can make invitations, party favor inserts, food labels, posters, thank you cards, etc. for a specific theme. For example, a kids super hero birthday theme. You pay a designer once to create the PDFs and you could sell as many as you can without increasing costs. A quick email of the PDF and you’ve fulfilled the order. There are so many themes you can create.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Shopify is an amazing company. They not only provide a solid, intuitive platform for launching your business, but they also educate you on how to grow your brand. Love it!
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.