Nicolas Quintairos

Founder of Twenty5Degrees

Our Founder and CEO, Nicolas Quintairos, grew up in South Florida. Growing up around the water between Miami and the Florida Keys, he noticed that over time the local oceans were dying. Corals, fish, and mangroves were gradually disappearing. So he decided to try to do something about it. Nicolas started at Florida State University where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Biology and Entrepreneurship. He then went on to earn a Master’s degree in Marine Ecosystems and Society from the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences. He is currently pursuing his MBA at the Spears School of Business at Oklahoma State University. Nicolas plans to lead the movement to Restore the Tropical Seas, 1 product at a time.

Where did the idea forTwenty5Degrees come from?

Twenty5Degrees was born from my childhood experiences in the ocean. As a young child, I was completely obsessed with sharks. I would read books about them and ask my parents to take me to the aquarium so I could see them.
As I grew older, we were lucky enough to purchase our first boat. I started driving boats at the age of 6 and never stopped. The ocean always fascinated me. I would tell my parents that I wanted to be a marine biologist when I grew up. Of course, I didn’t know what that meant, yet.

In high school, I started noticing that the ocean was in trouble. I was starting to see more and more plastic every time we went on the boat. When I dove the same reefs I had been diving my whole life there always seemed to be smaller fish and fewer corals each time we went out.

In college, being the son of a lawyer and a doctor, there was pressure to pick between the two. I chose to take the pre-med track. I was miserable. It wasn’t that my classes were that hard, my heart truly just wasn’t in it. All my friends in the program would always take the bio electives that would help you in medical school while I would take all the environmental classes.

Currently, my mom runs her own private medical office and she always told me that she had wished she took even the most basic business class before going on to medical school. Since I was on the same track, she advised me to add a minor in Entrepreneurship. Little did I know this would completely change the course of my life.

A few months later, I decided that medical school wasn’t for me. Instead, I was going to combine my passion for the ocean with my newfound interest in entrepreneurship through aquaculture. I decided to spend two years pursuing my master’s degree in aquaculture at the University of Miami. This landed me my first real job as a consultant at one of the largest offshore fish farms on the planet, Open Blue, in Viento Frio Panama. My schedule was not your typical schedule, I would work 40-day shifts with 20 days off in between. This got me thinking. I had the idea for Twenty5Degrees in undergrad but put it on hold to pursue my master’s degree in marine science. Now that I thought I would have the time to start this seemingly simple company, I dove in headfirst. A year later, I could’ve never imagined how difficult balancing my professional career and my business would be. Still, I don’t regret one second of it. I learn something new about my business each day. Putting one foot in front of the other I am committed to growing Twenty5degrees to accomplish our goal of restoring the tropical seas.

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

Like most of us during this global pandemic, my typical day starts with the extremely short walk from my bedroom to my desk. I have my morning coffee and away I go. I keep a meticulous to-do list. I start with number 1 and so on. These tasks can be anything from sending an email, to brainstorming for new products or redesigning a part of the website. On most days I have at least 2-3 virtual meetings throughout the day. I only really get up to stretch, eat, or go to the bathroom. My day typically ends with me playing around the world with my dad in the front yard or doing something active to get the blood flowing.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Ideas are a funny thing. Bringing even the simplest of ideas to life is hard work. The get rich quick schemes just don’t work, plain and simple. My grandfather once told me that every person I knew growing up would have a million-dollar idea at some point in their lives. The difference between those who succeed and those who don’t is hard work. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying.

My grandfather came to this country in the ’60s as political refugees from Cuba. Working during the day and going to school at night he managed to graduate from college with an engineering degree just a few years after arriving in this great country. He used this degree to build a multimillion-dollar construction business in Miami. My grandfather taught me that those that are willing to put in the countless hours of work that are necessary to succeed at the very least give themselves a chance. Ideas are just the start, having a detailed plan, and putting the work fourth the executive that plan is the only way ideas truly come to life.

What’s one trend that excites you?

I think the trend that excites me the most is the awakening of the consumer. For so long, large companies were able to operate with one goal in mind, profit. It did not matter that their operations were polluting some rivers in Asia as long as they made a profit.

This is no longer acceptable. Companies are being forced by consumers to reveal details about their operations like never before. People are starting to realize that in this capitalist society we live in, our power does not lie at the ballot box, but in our wallets. Each time we spend money we vote for what that company stands for. Consumers are demanding more from companies and the corporate world is starting to respond, and not because they love the environment, but because by ignoring environmental issues caused by their operations, they are hurting their bottom line.

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

I think my most important habit is the way I handle my to-do list. It may seem insignificant, but by keeping a detailed to-do list I can stay focused on the most important tasks for the day. I sort my tasks from in order of importance. I rate my days from 1-10. Each task I complete for the day is worth 1 point. On days I complete 10 tasks, I consider that a “perfect” day. You’d be surprised how much progress just staying on task can make.

What advice would you give your younger self?

If I could talk to my younger self, I would tell myself to start the blog first and use the blog to rank for the keywords that we want to rank for. Once we have a significant number of subscribers and have reached the level of traffic we desire, then invest in a line of products to sell to the audience that is already visiting your site. This allows you to learn who your audience is before investing in inventory.

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

We have the technology to beat climate change; they are called trees. Now, not all trees are created equal. For example, mangrove forests are 4-10 times better at sequestering carbon than their terrestrial counterparts, tropical rainforests. We would have to plant more than just mangroves, but massive global reforestation efforts could reverse the effects of climate change. Essentially, climate change is just a math problem. More greenhouse gases = hotter temperatures. Obviously, its much more complex than that, but people talk about climate change like this extremely complex issue that we can never solve, but the truth is its just math. Now, I don’t think that planting trees alone will stop climate change in its tracks, but technically, if we plant enough trees we can balance our equation.

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

As I’ve said above, constantly update my to-do list with tasks that can advance the business. I cannot overstate how impactful this small change in my routine has made. It allows me to manage my time to achieve my weekly goals week after week. Learning how to manage your time wisely and how to hold yourself accountable skills that every entrepreneur must learn.

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

I think the strategy that has allowed us to grow our business is staying committed to the cause. We are a mission-driven brand. Staying true to the mission has allowed us to grow our audience and create a following that is dedicated to seeing the brand succeed.

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

I think my biggest failure as an entrepreneur caught me by surprise. Since we donate 10% of every sale to one of our non-profit partners, I expected the mission to grow the company on its own when we first opened. That was far from the truth. The internet is highly competitive and I really could not figure out how to grow the brand. This coupled with our slim marketing budget because of the coronavirus made it difficult for me to see a path forward. We changed my marketing strategy to think long term. Instead of spending time and money on paid ads, we started to focus on SEO and ranking for more keywords on Google to drive traffic. Instead of trying to grow revenues next month, our new plan would probably not take full effect till the following year. Still, month after month we saw our traffic to the store grow along with sales. Focusing on long term goals has allowed us to not worry about the present economic strife in this country and push forward into the future.

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

I think one of my more interesting business ideas is a Biodegradable Fishing Line and Net Company. This material would have to withstand the pressure fisherman put on their gear. At first, the fisherman could use this biodegradable line for their liter, which they switch quite often. The material would only have to be at full strength for a few days to be used as a liter. Still, if someone could design a material that degrades slowly, let’s say over 2-3 years in seawater, then we can cut the time that it takes for fishing equipment to degrade by hundreds of years!

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

I recently spent $100 to get professional pictures taken of our products. This has allowed us to update the website and display a more professional image of the company to the public. I can’t overstate the difference this has made for us. I am not a great photographer, I am a scientist and if I am the one taking all the pictures for our company, then we are in trouble.

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

Shopify is amazing. It allows us to track our marketing campaigns, collect email addresses, update or product line and so much more. Twenty5Degrees is my first online business; without Shopify, I would be completely lost. We use Shopify to run our website, buy shipping labels, collect email addresses, easily update the website, connect to our Facebook and Instagram shops and so much more.

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

I recommend everyone read One Million Followers by Brendan Kane. This book explains how to grow your business or personal brand through social media. The lessons learned in the book have been invaluable in increasing engagement and grow our business.

What is your favorite quote?

“It cannot be sustainable if it is not profitable” I have devoted my life and education to sustainability. Although there are many ways for businesses to be environmentally sustainable, there are fewer ways in which businesses can succeed while focusing on sustainability. It is my goal in life to develop new business models in which sustainability comes first. Still, for any of these models to work, the business must make a profit at the end of the day. Without being profitable, by definition, the business model cannot be sustainable.

Key Learnings:

• “It cannot be sustainable if it isn’t profitable”
• Climate Change is just a math problem, nothing more, nothing less
• Think long term, especially in the COVID economy
• Pursue what you are passionate about, don’t conform to social pressure to follow the proven path, make your path