Matilda Sandstrom

Focus on building your brand and believing 100 percent in what you do. Your most successful idea will be the one that you are passionate about.


Matilda Sandstrom is the 23 year old co-founder of Adventurist Backpack Co.
She grew up in a small village in northern Sweden and moved to the U.S. when she was 19.
Matilda is married to her husband Kelly, who is the second half of Adventurist Backpack Co., and they now live in Denver, CO.

With Adventurist, Matilda designs minimalist backpacks for travel, with a social cause. For every backpack purchased, her company provides 25 meals to families in need across the U.S.

Since their launch in September 2017, they have been able to provide over 20,000 meals to families, and have their backpacks sold in 20+ retailers across the western U.S.

Matilda has big plans with Adventurist for the future, and is hoping to achieve them before her 25th birthday.

Where did the idea for your company come from?

My husband Kelly and I started Adventurist Backpack Co. in September 2017.
I’m from Sweden, and Kelly is from the U.S.. We first met in Colorado 5 years ago when we were 18 and 21, respectively, and quickly realized that we had a shared passion for travel and adventure. With our lives revolved around travel, and spending about 3-4 months out of each year in Sweden after getting married, it dawned on us that a lot of people in Scandinavia use backpacks to add to their personal style, contrasting from the primarily utilitarian packs in the U.S.

In Sweden, people use backpacks as an accessory to their outfits, not just a functional tool to carry things around in. This idea, in combination with struggling to find a high quality/fashionable backpack (at a reasonable price) for our own travels led us to design a backpack with the minimalist style of Scandinavia, using high quality, weatherproof materials perfect for travel.

The idea that set the company into motion came during a backpacking trip around the world. During our travels throughout the spring/summer prior to starting the company, we witnessed the hardships of families that were struggling with hunger. Wanting to do what we could to help, we prepared meals each morning and filled up our packs, handing out meals to anyone in need throughout the day.
Adventurist Backpack Co. provides 25 meals to families in need across America for every backpack purchased.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

We typically wake up around 5am each day to head to the gym. Our most productive hours tend to be in the morning and early afternoon, so the more we cans squeeze into those hours, the better. I write a schedule and to-do list for the week every Sunday, and break each day down into 30 minute increments to keep on track. This helps me stay focused and get everything I need to done. By 5-6pm I generally finish up with all of the planned tasks I have for the day, and we use the rest of the evening to talk about new ideas and reflect on the day. This is definitely a perk of being married to your business partner!

How do you bring ideas to life?

Honestly, you just have to do it. There’s definitely a time for planning, and figuring out how to make your idea work, but after a certain amount of it, you just sort of have to jump into it head first. There’s never a perfect time to quit your job and start a business, so you might as well do it now.

What’s one trend that excites you?

We see more and more companies giving back as part of their business plan, and this really excites us and gives us hope that giving back can become the standard for all businesses in the U.S.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

One habit that most people might not associate with being a positive attribute, but that I’ve found works well as an entrepreneur, is being impulsive. Some of the best decisions we’ve made as a company have come from gut-feelings that we’ve decided to implement right away. The less time you spend thinking about acting, the more you’re able to actually do.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Stay calm, and don’t worry about the things you don’t know how to do yet. You’ll learn them along the way.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

Get married early. You get more time to spend with the person you love.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Read another book. Always stay curious and keep learning new things.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

One key strategy is to use word of mouth marketing and social media to grow your brand awareness on a budget. If you don’t have much money to spend on your new startup, these things are invaluable to your company’s growth and success.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

There are always failures, big and small, from daily screw-ups to money-losing mistakes, but you always have to put it behind you and keep going. Then working twice as hard to make up for the mistake.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Shampoo and conditioner sets that come with a smaller bottle of shampoo than conditioner. This will help people save money, and get past the problem of always having too much shampoo left after the conditioner bottle is empty. I’ve yet to come across a friend who finishes both at the same time…

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

The best 100 dollars I recently spent was on throwing a dinner party for a few friends. Spending money on experiences is always better than paying for things.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?

We use Shopify to host our website, and it has been a huge life and timesaver. It not only makes it super easy to create a professional looking website, but also allows us to keep track all of our accounting and customer data.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Always so hard to choose just one book, but I’ll go with “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho. This is an amazing story about finding your calling in life and just going for it.

What is your favorite quote?

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” – Helen Keller

Key learnings:

  • Focus on building your brand and believing 100 percent in what you do. Your most successful idea will be the one that you are passionate about.
  • Don’t wait around for the perfect time to start your business. The best time for you to get started was yesterday.
  • Figure out when you are most productive during the day, and use those hours to get your most important tasks done.