How Cotopaxi is Building a Socially Conscious Brand

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Stephan Jacob is only in his mid-30s, but he’s already leaving his impact on the world through his entrepreneurial pursuits and commitment to humanitarian causes. He’s the co-founder of Cotopaxi, a high-end outdoor apparel manufacturer.

Cotopaxi is the second successful eCommerce endeavor that Stephan has built from scratch. This time, with ventured backed capital, he’s creating a larger operation that genuinely incorporates social initiatives into all aspects of their business operation.

Today, Stephan shares the challenges he’s faced managing a company that has experienced rapid growth. We also discuss how to cultivate fierce brand loyalty, locate and hire top talent, and foster a company culture that empowers team members and supports sustainable growth.

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(With your host Andrew Youderian of and Stephan Jacob of Cotopaxi)

Andrew: Welcome to the eCommerceFuel Podcast, the show dedicated to helping high six and seven-figure entrepreneurs to build amazing online companies and incredible lives. I’m your host and fellow e-commerce entrepreneur, Andrew Youderian.

Hey, guys, Andrew here and welcome to the eCommerceFuel podcast. Thank you so much for tuning in today. Today, I’m joined by Stephan Jacob from Cotopaxi, and Cotopaxi tech line is gear for good. They make high-end outdoor gear and they’re also committed to humanitarian work and charitable work across the globe.

It’s a really interesting company. They’re very young, less than three years old but the brand that they’ve built in such a short period of time is really impressive. So, I asked Stephan to come on and talk about that. We talk about how difficult it is to do something big if it’s building something 10 times bigger, 10 times harder. We discuss how you build out a large team from scratch when you’re trying to build a ventured back company which he has done. We talk about a lot of different things, it’s interesting. So, really respected brand that they’ve built and I had a great time chatting with him. I hope you enjoy our discussion.

So, did the company called Kembrel…am I pronouncing it right? What was it? Was it a retail or specifically, what do you guys, do?

Stephan’s Start in eCommerce

Stephan: Yes, it was essentially a discovery platform for small independent brands and designers mainly apparel and accessories. So, we had these exclusivity agreements with small brands, makers out of Brooklyn for leather goods and other cool stuff with a focus on US made merchandise are mainly online and then we had several physical retail locations as well.

Andrew: You sold that business?

Stephan: I actually did that, sold it to a UK based company called Wolf & Badger. Well, Bottica, but they were acquired by Wolf & Badger shortly after and they were trying to enter the U.S. market so they used Kembrel as the platform to do that.

Andrew: And why did you sell? Were you trying to sell the business or did they approach you with an offer you couldn’t refuse?

Stephan: It wasn’t…Cotopaxi, I love what I do and I’m truly passionate for both the humanitarian work of an aspect of the organization as well as the products that we make. I grew up in Germany and have always been sort of a gear junkie, living close to the Alps. My godfather was an officer in the Special Forces, ever since I was little.

Pablo, he had a son my age, he took us out into the wild and that’s how I grew up. So, I love the outside, I love the outdoors and the gears that come with it. So, Cotopaxi is a business that brings all that together, and with Kembrel, that wasn’t the case. No, it was an opportunity that we saw and we executed on but it was never something that I felt incredibly passionate about. So, yeah, I was excited when we found a home for it.

Andrew: So, you actually…did you sell it to be able to pursue Cotopaxi?

Stephan: Not specifically Cotopaxi, when we sold it, I didn’t know about Cotopaxi yet, but to pursue the next venture, yes. And then, shortly after Cotopaxi materialized, yes.

The Origin of Cotopaxi

Andrew: How did that work? How did you meet David Smith and what’s, in a nutshell, the origin story of how you guys got it going?

Stephan: So, Davis and I, we went to school together. We did an MBA at the Wharton school and a master in International Studies at the Lauder Institute. As part of that program, the Lauder program, we were on the Spanish track there, different languages tracks. Our focus was on South America. So, we spend time together and our first summer in Argentina and then in Spain and later traveled together in the Philippines for our master thesis and, you know, really from the get-go, we really heated off.

We share the same values around what type of organization we want to build, what’s important to us in terms of cultures and teams and the fact that we wanted to, with Cotopaxi, find a way to show that as an organization you can do well economically but also do good. And that was something that was missing in our previous ventures. Davis is a very accomplished entrepreneur, Cotopaxi is his third business and while it’s exciting to build a business and find success, we really wanted to have a path to sustainable impact from a humanitarian perspective with Cotopaxi. We both traveled extensively in the developing world. My wife is South Indonesian so I spent a little bit of time in Southeast Asia.

Davis lived in Latin America for many years of his youth, both just came to that realization that many people on this planet, the vast majority, in fact, don’t have access to many of the things that we all take for granted. Whether that’s education or safety or shelter or safe nutrition, and that’s for no fault of their own. It’s not that they’re lazy or don’t want to, they were simply born in a very difficult, hard environment. So, that I think has sharpened the appreciation for both of us that we wanted to do something about it.

As an individual, you can only do so much, no matter how high-network you become and how much you donate, there’s a limit to the impact that you can have. So, we both felt that organizations have a responsibility to just step up and that’s sort of the origin of Cotopaxi and so that shared the value system that we both had. So, yeah, we met, Davis was just returning from Brazil where his previous business had been.

I had just exited Kembrel and we met at a three-year anniversary event of the Lauder Institute in New York City over a weekend and connected the next morning and essentially, two days later, I had decided to move to Utah and to get this business going with him and he moved back to Utah as well that same month from Brazil, so we got going with it. But that’s sort of the…at the very core of this business, was the desire to really make a difference besides obviously building a phenomenal, profitable and sustainable business but to really make a difference with it, from a humanitarian perspective.

Andrew: You talk about, obviously suddenly you had a lot of history and background with Davis but sounds like the decision to do was made pretty quickly, in a couple of days and coming from Kembrel, sounds like maybe had 5, 10 employees, and I don’t think you were manufacturing your own stuff. You’re working of partnering with manufacturers.

Going to Cotopaxi, it’s…you’re raising VC, it’s a totally different business model and you manufacture your entire line of products, much bigger team. It’s a much more audacious thing and obviously as entrepreneurs, that’ exciting but how much of that was an excitement factor and how terrifying was that? Was there any hesitation there, making the jump to such a drastically, more involved commitment?

A Commitment to Being a Humanitarian Brand

Stephan: Yes, absolutely and to this day. We sometimes look at ourselves and that terrifying gut feeling because we’re…things are going really well and we’re growing fast and are seeing tremendous traction in the market but you’re absolutely right. We have a team depends on us, obviously, giving the right direction and we depend on them to execute in their respective domains.

We have investors that have trusted us with funds to build this business. Absolutely, and there’s so many unknown. We’re in a space that is obviously very crowded. The outdoor industry is, but we both felt strongly that there were a real, real opportunity here and the fact that we had built businesses before it really helped in terms of trying to stay calm and focus and we still make mistakes but maybe it’s different. It’s new mistakes and some of the more operational execution, questions just, they come to a lot easier the second time around, in terms of building a team, in terms of setting up the infrastructure and the systems and processes and everything.

So, yes terrifying absolutely and that is still the case very much so, but at the same time, we were just so, so excited about what we were building and the excitement that we were seeing from the market. In the first four weeks after we launched, we got 400 unsolicited jobs applications from people in our target demographic. You know millennials consumers who were saying, “Hey I want to be a part of this. I want to be involved with this movement.” And that’s a big responsibility that we’re building an organization that stands for something and then people want to get involved with and that we need to be very careful to stay true to that and really be genuine around our social admission but at the same time, that gave us a lot of encouragement to see that people were just so enthusiastic for what we were doing. And that hadn’t been the case in our previous businesses. So, that gave us a lot of confidence.

Building an Impactful Business

Andrew: I was chatting with some entrepreneurial friends this last weekend and one of the discussions that came up was, when you’re thinking about doing something big, a lot of times. Anytime, you do something big, obviously, it’s going to be harder, but often times, at least the proposed thesis was it’s not linearly harder. So, if you’re trying to build something 10 times bigger or more impactful, it’s not 10 times harder. I mean, given you’re coming from Kembrel to Cotopaxi, obviously it’s a bigger and more responsibility but have you found that that’s the case?

Stephan: I would very much agree with that statement. I think, you could flip it around and say it actually takes the same amount of effort to build a $10 million dollars business as it does to build a $100 million dollar business. It’s not entirely true but in terms of that it takes you the same amount of hours, right? Almost to get there. You need to do things differently and like maybe have different…hire different skills into your teams and to truly scale, but in terms of how you as an entrepreneur and leader spend your time, I think it’s absolutely true.

I think, what that should lead to is actually as people think about their…the most valuable asset you have as an entrepreneur is your time and so as people evaluate new opportunities and business that they want to start, I think that should be a key filter for you. Obviously, one is do you want to do that? Are you passionate about it? That’s an important one but now, I think the second is how big is this opportunity and how much potential does the idea have, whether it’s one of the biggest filters an institutional investor will apply.

Does this thing really have legs to be a $100 million billion business? So, I think that’s something that people need to vet very, very carefully, the potential size of the opportunity because I agree, it’s not proportional it’s not like you…it’s that much harder to build a very large business and of course there are other challenges to get you beyond certain miles stones but it’s a decision to be made very carefully in terms of how big the opportunity really is.

Putting Together The Right Team

Andrew: How did you…? I mean, you’re less than three years old and it’s been really impressive watching. You grow the brand and you’ve done in less than three years, you’ve got, I’m not sure exactly but just look at your website, probably close to 50 to 100-ish proprietary design and high-end outdoor products. I don’t believe that you and Davis have designed products yourself before, so you got a team to build. So, when you come into something like this, with such a large goal, and given you’ve moved and accomplished so much so quickly, starting from ground one, how do you know the approach and the strategy for figuring out what roles you need and then how do you convince… So how did you build up that framework and then, how do you convince people to come on board with you to actually fill out that framework in terms of personnel?

Stephan: Absolutely, I think that is a really important exercise once you sort of decided, “Okay, this is the opportunity we will pursue.” To be very frank with yourself, and your co-founders like what aspect of the skill set require to really execute on this idea do we have and what aspect do we not have? So, in our case, we knew how to build brand, we knew how to build systems and processes to support, from an operational perspective, to support a multi-channel business from warehousing, customer experience, fulfillment, the e-commerce technology and all that.

That we knew, those were our strengths. What we had no experiences in, was product. How do you design exceptional, amazingly, well-designed high-quality outdoor product. And so that’s where our third co-founder CJ came into play, who is a veteran in the outdoor industry? He has worked for Gregory and Black Diamond for close to 12 years and has designed some of their most award winning packs and tents and whatnot over the past decade. So, we were very frank that that’s not our forte and that we needed somebody who could really help us do that and I think that a constant assessment as we continue to grow the business to recognize merchandise planning is a problem and we’re running into inventory stock out situations or excess stock, we need somebody who likes deeply understands that and can help us fix that and hence hired accordingly.

We were very fortunate to be able to attract tremendous talent from often times, organizations that are much, much bigger than we are but people who were willing jump on board, make that leap of faith because they saw that, A, the opportunity was tremendous and that the organization that we were starting to build was built around certain core values that were very attractive and different from some of the environments that they had worked in previously. We given a ton of responsibility as we bring people on like there is no Steve Jobs, I think I was the one to just coin that phrase right there. There’s no point in hiring smart people and then telling them what to do.

So, we firmly believe in that. We try to hire absolutely caliber A talent but then let them execute in their respective domains because they’re the experts in it and that’s true for our marketing folks, it’s true for our planners, our product, our designers. So, I think that’s sort of the philosophy that we take. Hire exceptional people, which obviously, that’s a tough one. In order to be able to do that, you need the funds to be able to afford top talents, that was for sure for me a difference between my previous where we raised very little money and where we hired amazing people but they were all very, very junior because simply, we couldn’t afford more senior talent.

That’s definitely something by raising more institutional venture money has allowed us to build an exceptional team of eight players. And one of the things that we’re after that is there are performance environments where you can be exceptional and also then get away with not being very nice, or being a jerk. And that’s something that we, from the very beginning, sort of set in stone. We have an explicit no-jerk policy, so no matter how brilliant you are, you can’t get away with being a jerk at Cotopaxi, and that has really led to us attracting phenomenal talent but at the same time it’s just sort of silent over-achievers, everybody is very good at what they do but nobody takes themselves too seriously and that makes for a tremendously productive environment.

So, yeah, being very, very honest with to sort of go back to the beginning of your question, being very honest with the skills you don’t have and then trying to bring in exceptional people to help fill those gaps and then let them execute very independently and really guide the journey on that front.

The Power of a Personal Network

Andrew: What percent of the hires that you made within let’s say the first 12 months were people that either you or your co-founders knew from your personal network? Because let’s say you’re working for Patagonia, you’re designing jackets, you love working there. It’s Patagonia, also great company, they also have kind of their social impact, not as core but it’s definitely part of what they do as well.

So, to try to get somebody without some kind of personal report relationship to jump ship and come to your company. Even if you’re paying them better, you know it takes some good salesmanship and some good vision from your part, so how much of a role did your network play into building up this team versus just being able to bring on people who you didn’t know.

Stephan: I think the network for sure helped and I think that’s where the working network which we’ve been leveraging extensively, the McKenzie network, etc., definitely has been extremely helpful. And I think more so though, in terms of pointing us in the direction and making an introduction to doing somebody who didn’t necessarily know but just opening the door to people who others that we did directly know were aware of that were exceptional in their respective field. So, a great example of that is our chief impact officer which was one of our first very senior hire, she’s in the executive suite and overseas all our grand making, all our skills based launched sharing activities, all our sustainable supply chain work etc. And she was working for Silicon Valley Community Foundation which is one of the largest sort of fund manager for philanthropic funds and they’re managing the Mark Zuckerberg’s philanthropic funds and then many organization that just Juniper network and Oracle and Facebook and like just many larger organization and their sort of corporal social responsibility funds and she was with Salesforce Foundation before that.

So, it’s absolutely recognized as one of the sort of most forward-thinking talents in the philanthropic sustainable corporate giving world and she was an introduction through an investor who knew that she was going to be at a conference, Davis was at that conference and he sort of made that introduction and then, you know four weeks later, she joined us here in Utah, so I don’t think the network really helps to close the deal but it’s sort of like just with a job interview. It may help to get your resume to the top of the stack or just make people even aware of alpha-talented candidate, and then it’s up to us obviously in those individuals conversations to then sell the vision for the organization, the vision for Cotopaxi and what we’re trying to achieve and showcase how any respective hire will play a major part in that and has true ownership. And so yes, the network absolutely helps in terms helping us surface great candidates. I don’t think it necessarily leads to closing the deal and then really bringing somebody on board.

On Developing A Loyal Following

Andrew: You’ve managed to develop an incredibly loyal brand following in less than three years. I mean, I’ve seen this in kind of preparing for our discussion and talking to friends that live in Salt Lake City and reading up on you. So, confirmed from different multiple places and honestly part of that is, I’d guess your social aspect but there’s a lot of brands that have a social component and so how have you, what have you guys really focused on in terms of trying to establish that brand identity and brand loyalty so quickly? Because you’ve done it really, really well. You mentioned brand building was one your strengths and one of your co-founder strengths, apart from just the overall mission of what you’re trying to do and then, gear for good, what are some of the nuances behind that? How have you actually done that and driven that home?

Stephan: Yes, I think it’s one thing and you’re absolutely right, many organizations at this point have some sort of CSR aspect to their business or initiative. I think the key though is that if those social initiatives are not genuinely incorporated into everything that you do as an organization, A, it’s very easy for consumers at this point to sort of see through that. That it’s just an initiative and while, probably well-intentioned it will come across more as a marketing gimmick than really contribute to the brand story. So, it needs to be genuine and it needs to be deeply embedded into everything that we do as an organization and so for us what that means is that we look at how we source products.

One of our hero product is the Luzon Del Dia, which is a very simple day hiking pack where we took almost sort of put the product creation and manufacturing process on it’s head instead of giving our manufacturing partners and our sower a fully specs pack tech pack, we just said, “Okay, these are the parameters of the pack. The only instruction that we give you is that no two bags can be alike. So, you decide which fabric to use for each panel, which fabric to use for the threads, for the buckles etc…” which has led to a really unique product. When the customer orders it, they actually don’t know what it will look like because it’s one of one.

There’s only…every product is truly unique and it basically showcases the creative talents of these unsung heroes of the outdoor industry, those are the people who are actually making the product. And it was amazing to see what that did on the manufacturing floor in terms…because that normally it doesn’t happen. The sower is supposed to saw and not to like sink and sort of have creative input on what the bag should look like. And it builds this really genuine connection between the person making the product and the person ultimately consuming and using the product. And that I think has really helped build this genuine deep emotional connections with our customers by projects like that and then telling the story around those projects, and there’re others like that.

Our newest line of insulated outdoor wear is called the Kusa collection where we use lama flees that is sourced on the Bolivian Altiplano, and again we sort of tell the story behind those lama farmers who traditionally have seen a tiny percentage of the overall value that’s created through the wall, the sheer from their animals and we’re going in there with a very disruptive approach to how that supply chain is organized and really showcasing and elevating the role of the individual farmers who live under very poor circumstances in Bolivia and really telling their story and somehow trying to shift how this whole supply chain works. And so I think it’s this deep stories that are embedded into our products and they give our customers a reason to talk about the brand, to talk about the product that they’re wearing and consuming and that really helps to get the brand out there, as opposed to us trying to push the brand through performance marketing via Google or Facebook.

Creating Top-Notch Content

Andrew: You guys have done an incredible job with content. Everything from just the look and feel of your website to more specifically blogging, Instagram, and some of your videos, you mentioned the Kusa jacket, we’ll link it up to the semi-show notes but amazing video with that or with the backpack that you mentioned and how that’s sewed in the factory. So obviously you guys invest a lot of time in that. So, what is your content team look like? Can you give me a sense of how many different rules you have for building up content and how core that is to your strategy?

Stephan: Sure, yes so the total team is about 28 full-time employees at this point spread over the various functions from marketing and sales over product design, developments to operations and warehouse and fulfillment and all that. In terms of the content generation that lives under our creative director, so we have one person that is sort of in charge of the brand, the brand story and every written word, every graphic that we produce sort of goes through him. He doesn’t make them all but he’s sort of the mind to make sure it sort of all ties together and then we have a full-time copywriter, editor for anything from product description over a lot of blog content.

Although, on that front, a lot of it is crowdsourced so we work closely with contributors and collaborators both on our social fields, Instagram, Snapchat, etc., as well as on our blog content, where not everything is produced actually here in-house, but we basically source tremendous talent, writers, photographers, etc. who are aligned with the values that we stand for as a brand and who have a following that has responded to that type of voice and that type of content and we take advantage of that and sort of give them a platform to showcase some of their content.

Andrew: Maybe, specifically, how does that work on the photography and the Instagram front? I was looking through your feed and you know, I imagined it would be extremely difficult to crank out day in and day out just jaw dropping photography like you have on there. So, do you license every picture from independent photographers, do you say, “Hey, we’ll hire you for a couple of days, go and shoot a bunch of stuff and give it to us.” How does that work specifically, because I can think through how it would work, from a copywriter perspective but from a photographer perspective, that sounds a little different? A little more interesting.

Stephan: Yes, so there is the sort of the equivalent of long form content for the photography where we actually, literally hire a photographer and like go out to let’s say Alaska , like a lot of our winter fall in, we had two of our brand ambassadors who happened to be great photographers as well. That’s one of the criteria as we choose an ambassador is that they need to have that’s skill and track record of having created great visual content together with one of our in-house greatest team members and one of our marketing managers they just went out to Alaska and created a ton of content over a week essentially, in various situations and backdrops and whatnot.

So that’s a very conscious sort of content creation effort that takes time and dedication add capital to make happen. For the social content, there it’s a much more organic effort where we basically scout and very actively look for contributors who are already out there, who are already creating amazing content and then, and often times, those can be just our customers who so many of them are incredible outdoorsmen and women. They may not have a following of quarter million people but their content is just incredibly good and so there are various tools that let you pull in that content and then basically ask the original photographer for authorization if we can use that content and we obviously give full credit for that.

So, that’s a sort of tool-supported process to pull in that social feed content and go through that authorization process before we post it on our feeds and repost it. So, those are the two types of content efforts, one the more organic where we literally go more after the individual that creates the content and sort of establish the relationship and then there’s the more formalized pro-active content creation efforts where we do photo shoots and trips and that kind of stuff.

Office Llamas

Andrew: Is it true you guys own two lamas?

Stephan: Yes, we do own two lamas. They live on a little home in Cottonwood Heights, which is where our office used to be until four weeks ago. They’re awesome, they’re called Coto and Paxi and they are strong willed lamas and we’re just fortunate to have these guys. We go hiking with them like we do a quarterly offsite with the entire team and then once a year, a long offside for several days in the wild and last one was up in the Uinta, which is a range of mountains close by in Utah.

So, we took our lamas and they carried some of our tents and camping porter party type equipment and they’re just amazing animals. They make people smile and laugh and stop and want to take a selfie with them and they’re very gentle creatures, and they were trained as pack animals, so they’re used to people around them and we love these two guys.

The Lightning Round!

Andrew: I love it, I love it. All right, as we wrap up here, we’ll quickly do a lightening round, and this is a round of just quick questions, rapid fire answers, it can just be a sentence. But usually, ask this same questions to all of our guests. So, if you’re up for it, we’ll dive through that?

Stephan: Yeah, go for it.

Andrew: Great. How much money is enough? What would be your number?

Stephan: For me personally, well I guess you want rapid fire so for the business however much it takes to get you to profitability and obviously the lower that number is the better for you as a founder.

Andrew: So let’s say personal, how much money is enough for you? Like if you had this amount in your bank account, you’ll be like, “All right, that’s it. I don’t need anymore, I’m done.”

Stephan: No set number. I’ve never optimized and obviously I’m’ still very young, in my mid-thirties, to this day I’ve never optimized for cash. Opted, not to return to Mackenzie even though they paid for grad school and instead I owed them a bunch of money and paid that off. But instead opted for a learning and growth. So, I think the money will follow, there’s no hard number that I’m optimizing against, and the same actually holds true for Cotopaxi, we’re not looking for and pursuing like a quick exit that makes us all filthy rich but we want to have built an incredible organization that’s sustainable and if that also means that we will benefit from that financially great but that’s not what we’re optimizing against.

Andrew: What did you want to be when you were a kid?

Stephan: Strangely enough, for a long time, I wanted to be a management consultant which is not really fun.

Andrew: That’s not your typical kid answer, right?

Stephan: No, but I wore my grandpa suits to high-school. Every single day, I wore a suit and obviously people made fun of me, but I thought it was a way to honor my grandpa and I just loved the way I looked in a suit sort of like Barney in “How I Met Your Mother”. But anyways, once I was a consultant, I realized that really was the end goal. Now, I love being an entrepreneur, I’ve never been happier, professionally and personally than I have been in the last couple of years of running my own business.

Andrew: And speaking of being an entrepreneur, how many hours per week do you work on average?

Stephan: It’s hard to say because unlike when you have a corporate job, or you just work for a paycheck, obviously, you count the hours to when you can stop working and start doing the things you really love to do. Whereas I feel like as an entrepreneur, I love what I do and so I almost don’t keep track of when I work, or when I don’t work because it’s all sort of like blended together so this concept of work-life balance I’m sometimes struggling with because I feel very balanced even just being at work and obviously, you need to take good care that you spend enough time with your family. I have two little girls and really spent quality time with them and my wife and exercise and all that. I don’t know, I’m sure it’s north of 60-70 hours a week but it doesn’t feel like that. So I think that’s one of the benefits, the flexibility that you have as an entrepreneur to put in the hours when it’s needed but then also not do it when you have a chance.

Andrew: What’s your favorite outdoor activity?

Stephan: I love hiking, it’s very simple and straightforward but I love the feeling of hiking a mountaineering of conquering a summit. Yes, that’s probably one of my top ones. Ideally then combined with like an overnight sleeping outside, camping, backpack, camping, hiking? I love doing that.

Andrew: If there’s one thing that was going to bring upon the fall of civilization in the next 25 years, what would it be if you had to speculate?

Stephan: I was going to give a political answer but I will refrain from that.

Andrew: I want to know what you were going to say too.

Stephan: The fall of civilization I think if people…it really doesn’t take much to make a real difference and make this world look like a better place. The first step is to care and then obviously the second step is to act on whatever you care about and do something about that. It’ doesn’t take much. Every single person can very easily do something by volunteering their skills and expertise by donating money, sure but it’s very easy to do that. I think that if people stopped caring, that will bring down and bring about the end of civilization.

Andrew: Obviously, it sounds like you are madly in love with Cotopaxi and your business right now would never leave a voluntarily but let’s assume for the sake of argument, you had to give it up, you could no longer run on it and you were banned from being an entrepreneur, you had to work for a company but you could work for any company in the world, guaranteed you could just pretty much, pick and it would be guaranteed that they’d hire you, who’d do you work for?

Stephan: I think there are absolutely amazing large scale organizations and corporations that have managed to maintain a spirit of entrepreneurship and creativity even at large scale, I think Google is a great example and many of my friends from business school have super, super, interesting roles at Google and some other tech companies, so it would probably be something like that a Google or a Tesla or some organization like that’s really pushing the envelope in terms of changing how certain industry works or runs so I think that would allow me to still accomplish some of the things that drive me at Cotopaxi, even in a more corporate environment.

Andrew: And the final question, what do you spend most of your discretionary money on?

Stephan: It depends on how you define discretionary but probably food. My wife and I, we love good food so, we shop carefully for healthy food that’s truly nutritious which tends to be a little more expensive but we also love a good meal, at an amazing restaurant and the experience that comes with that. We don’t do it very often because of our kids and just because we don’t have that kind of money to spend, but yes, that’s probably where a lot of my budget goes towards, is good nutrition and healthy but sometimes more expensive food.

Andrew: I used to live in Salt Lake, do you have a favorite restaurant there?

Stephan: We’re big sushi guys, so we love Takashi.

Andrew: Okay, nice. Very nice. Well, Stephan, it’s been fantastic hearing from you. I remember Cotopaxi coming into my radar, I can’t remember a year and a half ago and I’ve always been impressed with what you’ve done and I’s amazing, how much you’ve accomplished in two and a half years. So, best of luck going forward, looking forward to following what you guys are doing and thanks for making the time to come on the show.

Stephan: Yes, absolutely. Thank you so much for having us. We’re always excited to be a part of this sort of larger entrepreneurial ecosystem and we’re so rarely in ours, if you look at the lifespan of a socially conscious brand at two and half years is really nothing so we have so much more to learn and are just really fortunate and grateful to be part of the larger community. So, thanks for having us.

Andrew: You want to connect with and learn from another proved in e-commerce entrepreneurs, join us in the eCommerceFuel private community. It’s our tight-knit vetted group for store owners with at least a quarter million dollars in annual sales. You can learn more and apply for membership at Thanks so much to our podcast producer Laurence Serena for all of her hard work on making this show possible and to you for tuning in. Thank you for listening. That will do it for this week but looking forward to seeing you again, next Friday.

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Posted on: December 2nd, 2016

Andrew is the founder of eCommerceFuel and has been building eCommerce businesses ever since gleefully leaving the corporate world in 2008.  Join him and 1,000 vetted 6 and 7-figure store owners inside the eCommerceFuel Community.

Double Your eCommerce Business in the Next Year requesting the most effective growth and profitability strategies we've unearthed from 5+ years of studying successful stores.
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