Don’t ask for money up front. Do the work first, ask if you have to. Listen, but don’t immediately act on other’s advice.
Russ Lovell owns an international telecom and consulting business with his wife Cheryl. He is also a managing partner and co-founder at RVPlusYou.com, a peer to peer RV rental platform: RV Rentals by owner, delivered and set up at your destination, ready for your arrival.
Russ lives in San Luis Obispo, California with his wife of 32 years, loves to camp, hike, and golf. Russ and his wife have two adult children who also live and work in California.
When not at home in “SLO” Russ is traveling with his wife in their RV, a 35’ Cardinal 5th wheel, promoting the new startup. When they’re not traveling and promoting the RV business, they’re traveling overseas for their telecom business.
Russ is also on the board of Jack’s Helping Hand, a local charity in San Luis Obispo that assists families of medically fragile children with their medical expenses.
An entrepreneur and inventor at heart, Russ is all about building and creating; whether it be for business or charities, there are opportunities, niches, concepts, and perspectives to find and put to work. Russ believes that figuring out what works and where value can be created is the magical ingredient to a fulfilling life.
Where did the idea for RVPlusYou come from?
Airbnb was the original inspiration for the RV rental concept. We were visiting our son at Sonoma State in 2012 during ‘the crush’ when hotel rates triple. We decided to try an Airbnb, loved it, and subsequently started sharing our space. It wasn’t a huge leap to notice that our unused space included our RV, so we listed it and began sharing. It was a blast. I later pitched the idea to my partners for a Stanford class project where we had to create a startup. As we were completing our business model and fine-tuning our pitch, one of the partners said, “You know, this is a real business…” We jumped in and RVPlusYou was born.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My day starts with coffee, not for me but for my wife. I have a routine that keeps me on track with my list and weekly plan, but the day starts with coffee for her and a blended shake for both of us. I do my workout, shower, and am usually at my desk by 8:30 am with my shake reviewing emails and news. A weekly plan is the key: Plan your week, then work your plan day by day.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Usually one of us will bring an idea to the table in our Tuesday meeting. Depending on how well it’s thought through, it gets listed and then implemented. There are 3 of us, and we all have ideas that we stew on throughout the week, and then present. If there’s a lot of passion for an idea, by any one of us, we try it. We can always back it out if it doesn’t work, but because we’re in startup mode, it’s a lot of trial and error. The cool thing is that anyone can have a good idea, and we’re good at listening… especially to customers.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Online travel booking. It’s consistently growing among all age groups, and not only was our business model made for OTA’s, our target fits perfectly with this trend. We’re on the right side of the wave. Getting in front of a trend is like riding a wave in the ocean, rather than paddling your board in a lake.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I’m not sure how much more productive I am than others, but I do know that there are good habits that help make a plan work. For me, it’s a morning routine. Working from home is not easy for many and for me, it was tough to get used to. I started my telecom company in 2008 from my home. It’s been an evolution, but a regular routine and weekly plan can make all the difference. It has for me.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Don’t ask for money up front. Do the work first, ask if you have to. Listen, but don’t immediately act on other’s advice. We tend to trust what we don’t know, especially the “authorities”. Best to know it yourself. With information and data, you can trust your gut rather than someone else’s advice.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on?
I am the worlds foremost expert on one thing; my opinion, which everyone wants to hear.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Read and gather data. Learn how to do it, then pass on the chore. If you don’t understand it, you won’t have enough information to make good decisions so research, learn, practice, then delegate.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
Customer-driven strategy. With any business I’ve started, I’ve always let the customer drive growth. There’s always a need or problem to solve. If your company is scalable, solves a problem, and is customer-centered, then growth will happen. I’ve been able to do this in telecom and my partners have done it in their respective industries as well. Listen, plan, implement, measure, adjust, repeat.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I invested a lot of time and OPM (other people’s money) in a failed product launch. I overcame the failure by moving on to the next project and didn’t dwell on the failure.
In 1985 I invented the ‘bathroom mirror clearer’; a multi-functional blow dryer that mounted above a bathroom mirror. I was 23 at the time. I raised $5,000 from friends and family to have the idea patented. After submitting to Sunbeam, Westinghouse, GE and a few other major brands, I learned that my “Idea” was not that unique. Anyone could replicate the product and I actually owned no intellectual property. I simply had an idea and the company I paid to promote it was in the business of taking advantage of naïve people like me. The quote by Mary Kay was spot on: “Ideas are a dime a dozen. People who implement them are priceless.” – It takes hard work to succeed, not just a great idea and no one is going to do the hard work except you.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
RV Rental home-based business. You can start it up with zero cash, but it helps if you own an RV. If you don’t, consign your neighbors RV.
There are 10 million RV’s in North America that sit idle almost 90% of the time and 10% of all RV owners want to earn extra income by renting it out. The RV Vacation Rental Manager can put those assets to work and share 50% of the income. Most vacation rental managers earn just 10%. I’ve written about it on my blog and two articles will explain the opportunity in detail: and
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Bose SoundSport wireless earbuds. Great for phone calls and your work out.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
Jira, from Atlassian. We use it to communicate changes and bugs to our developers in India. It’s a bit more than we actually need, but once you learn it, it’s priceless. Twilio is another platform that is invaluable and we’re getting ready to integrate deemly.co, a trust and review platform.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephan Covey. The main reason is inspiration, but Mr. Covey teaches practical common-sense steps that everyone should try to understand. It’s all part of our natural world, perfectly in sync and applicable to almost every aspect of one’s life.
What is your favorite quote?
“Golf is a good walk spoiled” – Mark Twain
• A weekly plan is the key: Plan your week, then work your plan day by day.
• Anyone can have a good idea, so be good at listening… especially to customers.
• Getting in front of a trend is like riding a wave in the ocean, rather than paddling your board in a lake.
• With information and data, you can trust your gut rather than someone else’s advice.
• “Ideas are a dime a dozen. People who implement them are priceless.” – It takes hard work to succeed, not just a great idea.
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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.