Steve Silberberg founded Fitpacking Weight-Loss Backpacking Adventures in 2005. He graduated from M.I.T. in 1984 with both Bachelor and Master of Science degrees in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. Steve was a software contractor for over 25 years serving dozens of clients including DuPont, Polaroid, Tektronix, Acadian Asset Management, and Talbots. Steve’s other careers include College Professor, Aerobics Instructor, Museum Curator, Expert Witness, Failed Electronic Publisher, Failed Internet Entrepreneur, Failed Stand-Up Comedian, Failed Author and Failed Filmmaker. Steve has the 10th largest Air Sickness Bag collection in the world and his online museum has garnered international press and national TV and radio coverage. Steve hates people and prefers to spend his time backpacking in the wilderness.
City where you’re from: Hull, MA
Favorite quote: The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. — Bertrand Russell
Why did you decide to become an entrepreneur?
Becoming an entrepreneur is more of a calling than a decision. Many people become very successful in a corporate structure, but for me it’s oddly more gratifying to fail on my own than succeed in a hierarchy.
Who were your biggest influences? Was there a defining moment in your life?
My father was probably my biggest influence. I’m generally not inspired by other entrepreneur or trending business leaders. I looked up to my father, who unfortunately passed away at the age of 54. In my 40s, I started wondering what I would do with my life if I had less than 15 years left. So among other things, I decided to spend my time doing what I loved … backpacking. And thus started Fitpacking.
What are you working on? How did you come up with this idea?
I’m working on getting Fitpacking to operate without me. I guess that means succession planning. That doesn’t mean I plan to disappear anytime soon, just that no business should depend upon the presence of a single individual.
How is your product/service different and unique? What has been your favorite moment with it? What’s the vision?
There are plenty of wilderness guiding outfits out there that serve the outdoor adventure enthusiast. Fitpacking is different because it seeks to draw in people who are interested in getting fit. These are not necessarily people who already love hiking. Often, our participants have never slept outside or spent a night in the woods. Our vision is to introduce people to the wilderness and inspire them to protect it..
If you do Facebook ads, what types of creatives/campaigns do you use (we like specifics)? If you don’t, what untapped marketing channels do you take advantage of?
We have done Facebook ads but our campaigns have been pretty vanilla. Usually it consists of an image of someone backpacking in a stunningly beautiful destination with a target audience of those who like say, camping and chocolate.
Did you experience failure along the way? What did you learn from it?
We experience failure just about every day, just as we experience success just about every day. The lesson seems to be that the people you spend the most time trying to please appreciate it the least and will take advantage of you.
Give the readers the best entrepreneurship advice you have.
Do what you love. You’ll be great at it. If you’re just starting a business to make money, you might as well get in on the ground floor of someone else’s dream.
Teach us something about internet marketing.
Get as much online press as possible. Maybe nobody will patronize your business because it appeared in the “Organic Lettuce Today” blog, but the feature will silently increase your Google Page Rank.
What are some of your favorite books?
- Teenage Waistland
- Free Range Kids
- I’m Good Enough, I’m Smart Enough, and Doggone It, People Like Me!
- The Legacy of Luna
Where do you see yourself and your product in a couple years?
As others take a larger role in the company, I expect the breadth of Fitpacking’s offerings to expand to canoeing, cycling and more international trips.
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