It’s about building an audience and brand that is recognized as credible and pivoting when you hit a road block.
Andrew Parker started his entrepreneurial career 7 years ago when he packed his bags and moved from Austin, Texas to Santiago, Chile. His intent was to stay in Chile for 3 months and learn a new culture. Almost 4 years later he had started a career as a freelance English teacher and co-owned 2 businesses. The first was PathwayChile that helped students who were studying abroad travel around Chile for cheap. The second was a horseback company called Patagonia Riders that specialized in 7-day excursions through 35,000 acres of private land in Patagonia. A few years ago Andrew returned to Austin, married his high school girlfriend and started Givebuy which is a platform to generate money for non-profits, causes & crowdfunding projects through online shopping. He is 31 years old and has an 11-month old daughter that is his life.
Where did the idea for Givebuy come from?
had been working in the affiliate marketing world for several years and was constantly coming up with new, low-budget marketing ideas to get higher conversion rates. One day my brother (who was working with me at the time) mentioned something along the lines of “wouldn’t it be cool if we could donate some of our commissions to charity and get people more excited about shopping?” Two years later after a long developmental process and retailer applications Givebuy was born.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
It’s difficult being an entrepreneur and small business owner for thousands of reasons, but one of the most difficult can be keeping yourself in check. By this, I mean keeping a strict schedule and adhering to it. In my past jobs, I wouldn’t be late to the office because I’d get in trouble or fired. Now, I could take the day off and wouldn’t have to answer to anyone. That can be a dangerous thought that goes through an entrepreneur’s head, trust me. However, I’ve found it easier and easier to keep my schedule strict as time goes on. I like working and look forward to it when I wake up every day.
My schedule usually consists of a 6am wake-up, a quick check of emails to make sure nothing is pressing. I feed my 11-month old daughter around 8 or 8:30 and it’s off to work. My wife works as well so sometimes I’ll have to change up my schedule to fit around my daughter’s life, which usually is no problem. Work stops at 6 and then it’s 100% family time. Devoting myself 100% to my family after 6pm motivates me to get everything I need to be done within my workday.
How do you bring ideas to life?
This has been a hard lesson for me. When I started venturing into the world of entrepreneurship around 8 years ago I would have an idea, build a quick website and if it wasn’t making money within a few days it was off to the next idea. This did NOT work for obvious reasons. Bringing ideas to life takes weeks, months & years. It’s about building an audience and brand that is recognized as credible and pivoting when you hit a road block.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
Crowdfunding. It’s a remarkable thing when complete strangers feel so passionate about a product that they will collectively raise thousands or millions of dollars to make it a reality. I believe crowdfunding will continue to evolve and become even more efficient & helpful for entrepreneurs in the future.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Not procrastinating. College taught me how to put things off for as long as possible and that was a difficult habit to break. If I need something done then I do it then, I try to never put things off for a later day.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
Working at a firework stand for my friend’s uncle when I was 14. I worked 10 hours a day for 5 days and got paid $42 cash total. I then spent $45 on fireworks to I actually lost 3 dollars in the whole deal. What did I learn? Don’t work in a firework stand.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
If this question is referring to life then I’d become a pilot. I love everything about flying. If it’s referring to my entrepreneurial career then I would say keeping my 9-5 job while I built up my business and then slowly transition the 2.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Workout & live a healthy lifestyle. It helps in so many ways. You wake up ready to tackle the day, think clearer and are usually in a much better mood overall.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
Learning how to market my company with almost no marketing budget. There are so many ways to do this that are often overlooked. For example, one of our business platforms helps crowdfunding projects raise more money whenever their supporters shop online. So, we participate actively in crowdfunding forums, engage with crowdfunding companies/people on social media, post in crowdfunding-related subreddits, etc. All of which cost me nothing.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I started a horseback company in Patagonia, Chile with 2 Chilean friends about 5 or 6 years back. It was incredible…7 days on horseback through 35,000 acres of private land. We were low budget and I was put in charge of marketing. I thought I knew what I was doing but I didn’t and it wasn’t long until that was obvious. I stepped down and focused on guiding instead of the marketing/business side of things. Sometimes you have to be realistic about certain situations, and I had no business trying to market that company.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
It’s 2015. If you’re thinking about it then someone has probably already done it…you’ve just gotta do it better. No, but really I had the idea of different endings to movies before studios started doing it. I think The Butterfly Effect was the first movie to ever do this..it didn’t really catch on though I don’t think. Outside of that….um, a washer and dryer in one. I hate forgetting to move my wash to the dryer. I’ve heard they may have them in Europe, but we don’t have them here in the USA. Good luck! Take it and run.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
A crossbow. Because why not.
What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?
MailJet for email, BuzzSumo to find related twitter stuff, Hootsuite to schedule our social media posts, Unbounce for landing pages, WordPress for the main website. Check all of them out, they are great!
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The Start-up Playbook by David Kidder just does it.
What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?
I can’t pinpoint one person, I learn new things every day from articles/posts/advice I read online. My advice would be to read new content related to your vertical or business every day. Stay on top of it.
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.