What’s the inspiration behind Pakt?
My team and I are resolute in the fact that we value experiences over any product. It’s our mission to create great products that let people focus on the journey and get more out of their travel experiences and their daily adventures. I’ve always been a traveler, wanderer, nomad, and adventure-seeker, but I’m also an environmentally-minded outdoorsman and a very particular gear snob. Pakt allows me to combine all of those passions.
How have you built adventure into your life during the pandemic?
In every way possible! It was a tough year for all of us, but my wife and I made the most of it. I don’t do well sitting still or spending too much time indoors, so we doubled down on outdoor adventures and took to the road to avoid flying. We actually moved from our East Coast home to Montana to live, work, and explore. That ended up being an 8000-mile trip over a couple of months—and a total success.
Why focus your company on sustainability and environmental issues?
In 2016, I was laying the groundwork for a new venture that would help tackle the problem of ocean plastic pollution. The documentary Minimalism had just premiered on Netflix. A bag that my team and I had designed years before was featured prominently in the film, and suddenly more requests started flowing in. After some time, I realized I could collaborate with The Minimalists and Matt D’Avella to jump-start the environmental venture, and we called it SeaHive. Those practices and goals became the foundation for how and why we operate at Pakt.
How do you handle risk and competition?
I have a lot of hobbies that people consider dangerous. For one, I'm a private pilot. I find the risk exhilarating, but knowing how to do each activity safely and mastering those skills is the fun part.
Entrepreneurship is the same. Blatant knock-offs are annoying, but competition is inevitable—and welcome. In fact, we rarely use the word “competition” within the team. We prefer the term “peers” because we’re confident in the unique appeal of our offering. I subscribe to the belief that if you’re doing anything new, interesting, or worthwhile, you should expect others to copy it. Take it as a compliment and a sign that you’re on the right path.
People can copy your products but they can’t copy your brand, so keep innovating and focusing on building your brand.
What’s been the #1 (or two) top challenge(s) you’ve faced while launching your company?
We chose to pursue a first-of-its-kind travel coffee kit as our second product to establish ourselves as an innovative travel goods company. I knew it was ambitious for a young company but decided to go for it. The development and launch of our coffee kit ended up being far more difficult and expensive than expected—so much so that it almost brought us down. Once people started using the kit and posting rave reviews, sales picked up and it became our best selling product. It all worked out in the end, but it was a difficult road and a good experience to learn from.
Have you learned anything new or surprising about yourself as a founder?
One big surprise is how much I enjoy building and managing the team. I’m a designer and builder at heart, but naturally, as a founder, my time is better spent on other things and I’ve had to hand the reins of most product design work to others. It turns out that building a team and a brand is just another big design project that I really enjoy.
What’s your team culture like?
We have an awesome team and a really fun culture. Team members refer to each other as our “Pakt Fam.” We each have very distinct roles that cover various needs and departments, but there’s a strong sense of support, transparency, and collaboration that runs through everything we do.
What is your superpower?
Creative problem-solving. As a designer, I think creativity is the most valuable trait a person can have, and it’s something that I always pushed myself on. Entrepreneurship is non-stop problem-solving. It's all about doing a lot with a little. As my role has become more focused on leadership than design, I still find creativity to be the most valuable tool I (or anyone on the team) can bring to the table.
What’s your kryptonite?
Repetition. As soon as something becomes routine, I start losing interest. I’m always looking for ways to put processes in place to automate things that become routine. This lets me turn my attention to the next bigger and better challenge.
Do you have any unusual routines or habits?
One of my happy places is on two wheels, whether that's a bike or motorcycle. Any time I’m feeling stuck on a project or just need to clear my head, I go for a ride and it usually does wonders to get ideas flowing.