Technology keeps you productive, and finding places where technology and automation can reduce waste and create value is lucrative and makes the world a better place.
Boris Hodakel is the founder and CEO of Sewport – an online marketplace connecting brands and manufacturers, former founder of various clothing manufacturing services. He is passionate about e-commerce, marketing and production digitisation. Connect with Boris on LinkedIn.
Where did the idea for your company come from?
Originally, I was inspired to start Sewport by the increased role that technology plays in our everyday lives. The Internet of Things is driving more and more aspects of everything we do, and I realized that bringing technologies to arenas where it’s lacking is one of the best ways to add value to our increasingly digitized global business environment. I wanted Sewport to be a technology-based platform that made things easier for manufacturers, brands, and consumers, and so far this plan has been a great success.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I use technology to stay productive through every part of my day. I always have my smartphone on me to interact with partners, colleagues, and clients from around the world, and I’m on the go a lot. While I put in a lot of time each day making sure that Sewport is running effectively, my schedule is pretty much as far away from the traditional Monday to Friday, 9 to 5 as possible.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Persistence and experience. Before starting Sewport, I already had a lot of experience in the technology sales field, so I knew how to interact with clients and develop technology-based solutions. However, ideas don’t just come to life on their own; I’ve had to work at it every day to make sure that setbacks don’t sink my company.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I think it’s great how popular fair trade and sustainable clothing is becoming. I’m personally a big advocate of slow fashion, and I’ve become hyper-aware of where my clothes come from and how they’re made. The more that we focus on using safe, sustainable fibers to make clothes, the healthier and happier everyone will be at every level of the supply chain.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
While this might sound weird, I think that my OCD pays off in a big way. I’m constantly checking up on things and making sure that day-to-day operations are going smoothly, and as a result, I’m able to take care of a lot on a given day, and hardly anything falls through the cracks.
What advice would you give your younger self?
[laughs] Well, I’d say to quit the 9 to 5 life sooner rather than later. While I learned a lot during my days in the rat race, I wish I’d been able to use that time to focus on something that I was truly passionate about.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Handle as much as you can yourself. Lots of my entrepreneur friends take a relatively hands-off approach to running their businesses; once you reach a certain level of financial success, that’s your right, after all. However, I think it’s true that your company becomes something like an appendage of yourself; even if it means putting in long hours and answering emails yourself instead of delegating to an employee, your company will benefit if you remain its central sun.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Question my own actions. I’m not nitpicky, and I don’t agonize over things I might have done wrong. Instead, I use the past as fuel to make the best possible choices going forward. Consistently recapitulating the steps that led you to your current position is the best way to maximize your successes and avoid failure.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
I tend to think outside the box as much as possible. Once I had a general rhythm in place for my day-to-day routine, I started experimenting with off-the-wall strategies that I could use to accelerate growth. Not all of them have paid off, but taking a creative approach to running a business is never a bad idea.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
During the early days of Sewport, we hit a wall. At the time, we were a full-cycle production service, and we kept getting requests from brands that didn’t quite fit our profile. We were losing business, and while our company wasn’t in jeopardy by any means, we weren’t exploiting our true potential. To address this issue, I decided to launch Sewport as a platform that allowed manufacturers from all over the world to come together and work directly with brands. Ever since, our growth trajectory has been unstoppable.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Look into areas where technology and automation are lacking. Automation is the way of the future, and the more that people eliminate wasted time and effort with technology, the richer and happier everyone will be. If you can reduce human labor with a great idea, do it; you’ll be rewarded handsomely, and you’ll make the world a better place.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I’ve recently been spending quite a bit getting my website’s SEO up to speed. I have a content writer that I work with directly, and he’s been producing blog articles and other content that boosts my search engine ranking. If you have a business and you don’t have a content writer, I’d strongly suggest finding one.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I use Clearscope a lot. It’s an SEO tool that helps you tailor content specifically toward certain keywords. I’ve found that Clearscope is really easy to use, and it features sharing functions for collaborating on projects with my content writer or other collaborators.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
While I don’t agree with everything in The 4-Hour Workweek, I think it’s a must-read for entrepreneurs. I stay highly involved in day-to-day operations at Sewport, but I also understand the importance of outsourcing and getting work off your plate. Before starting Sewport, I was locked in a to 5 mentality that made me hate what I do. Even though I still work a lot, I have the freedom to do what I want, which is great.
What is your favorite quote?
Someone once told me “I’m not rich enough to wear fast fashion garments.” That really resonated with me. When you buy clothes that have been manufactured quickly without much regard for quality, you’ll end up buying clothes over and over again when they wear out. Slow fashion garments, however, last a lot longer, and they’re better for your body and the environment.
● Technology keeps you productive, and finding places where technology and automation can reduce waste and create value is lucrative and makes the world a better place.
● You can start a new clothing brand with pretty much any amount of startup capital. It all depends on your goals and how quickly you want to reach them.
● Slow or fair trade fashion is going to be a big thing in the next few years. Keep an eye out.
● The right content writer and SEO tools can bring your site’s presence to the next level.
● Read The 4-Hour Workweek to learn how to properly delegate and free up your day.
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.