Meet Mike Elberts, Co-Founder of GoodPeople.com

Ever wonder where your favorite shirt came from or who made it? GoodPeople.com makes it easy to learn about brands before you buy. This online marketplace features handpicked products that were made ethically and responsibly, so you can feel good about your purchase.

The name GoodPeople calls back to the company’s roots in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where co-founders Pablo Orlando & Daniel Jejcic created a forum for surf, ski and skate communities to share their favorite products from trips to the United States. Co-founder Mike Elberts met Pablo and Daniel while working as a ski instructor in Vail, CO and partnered with them to make GoodPeople what it is today.

Check out our interview with Mike below, then head over to GoodPeople.com to discover new brands that you will be happy to support!

Tell us about yourself!

Although I was born and raised near Chicago, I’ve always been drawn to adventure and the outdoors. Whether it was swinging from willow trees into a pond by my house, riding dirt jumps on my first BMX bike, or playing soccer with my friends, I always wanted to get after it. Thankfully, my godfather had heard the call of the ski bum lifestyle, and my family took annual ski trips to visit him around Colorado, Utah, and California. These early days in Breckenridge ski school showed me the way out of the midwestern flatlands It was only a matter of time before I made my escape.

Not long after graduating from University of Illinois, I found myself working in finance for Wells Fargo with the prospect of being transferred to Denver. After some not so subtle hinting (and potentially an ultimatum or two), I got my wish and finally moved to Colorado.

Six months later for the start of ski season, I tried out for Ski School at Vail and Aspen and scored a job as a Snowboard Instructor at Vail. That first year changed my life forever. Not only did I meet some of the most incredible, smart, internationally well-traveled people that I’ve ever come across (including my Argentinian business partners with GoodPeople, Pablo Orlando & Daniel Jejcic) but I also came to really love the outdoors and all the rawness and adventure that comes with it.

mike joshua tree

What inspired the start of GoodPeople?

The inspiration for GoodPeople has always been our friends and the the outdoor community. We truly love this lifestyle and GoodPeople.com is our way to stay a part of it and to be a positive influence on the future of the industry. The GoodPeople.com that you see today is a significant evolution from where we began over 8 years ago. When GoodPeople first started, it was a forum based in Argentina that was mostly connecting a group of snow, surf, skate friends in Buenos Aires, where they could plan times to meetup, post photos, and exchange/sell the gear and clothing they brought in from the USA. As time went on, Pablo and Daniel became authority figures in the community and word spread. As the forum grew, more people began looking to us for recommendations on gear and clothing, and the site naturally evolved into a place where users could read about and shop for those handpicked products. From our early days helping others discover their love of the outdoors, to the years working with our friends on a wild startup idea, the “GoodPeople” name just stuck. After our success in South America, we decided to bring GoodPeople to the USA and launched our San Francisco office and the site in 2013.

Longboard Day Argentina
Longboard Day in Argentina
How is GoodPeople.com different from other online retailers?

Our team works hard to handpick the best clothing and gear from outdoor brands. We focus on promoting the brands that are doing things right by creating high quality products in a responsible way. On GoodPeople.com, you can discover emerging brands with innovation in their DNA who value quality and and whose products are made both ethically and responsibly. Whether you’re looking for a new pair of flip flops, a bikini or technical gear for your next adventure, you will discover new brands that you will be happy to support. We know that in this day in age, there is no shortage of brands or of retailers, but that it’s hard to sift through the noise and know what you’re getting. On GoodPeople.com you can learn all about the products, the brand’s history, and see their social media profiles, while you are shopping.

What does a typical day at GoodPeople look like?

On a good day, I’m up around 6am, get beat up trying to surf at Ocean Beach, come home and shower, bike to work around 9am, turn on some music, and brew some coffee. Then the fun starts. Usually I hop on a Google hangout with our CTO or Product Manager in Buenos Aires and discuss any new features or development issues. After that, I usually stay online through email, our Admin Panel and Live Chat while talking to brands about how to grow their business through our platform. Then if I’m lucky, at some point I take a walk and sit in the park to eat lunch, and eventually bike home. Sometimes there’s a yoga or gym session thrown in there at the end, but not as much as I should… Even better, though, are the days when we do volunteer trail work, or hike Half Dome in Yosemite as a team, or clean up the beach with Surfrider Foundation, or visit the X Games in Aspen or LA, or….

Surfrider Foundation Volunteer Beach Clean-Up

What do you love about living in California?

Have you ever seen that California tourism commercial with Rob Lowe? Well… it’s kinda all the things he says. If you haven’t seen it, I’m jealous, that means you’ve been living here far longer than me! Board meetings, access to national parks, world class mountain biking, hiking, waves, wine country, etc… what’s not to love? Beyond geography, I love being around such motivated and inspiring people. I’m convinced that the outdoorsy people of CA have a little extra insight into what makes a “life well lived.” It’s possible here to find the holy grail of a perfect balance between work and play. California (San Francisco specifically) is at the intersection of technology and the outdoors, and it’s the perfect place to build an advanced online marketplace that connects brands to a massive community of outdoors enthusiasts.

How do you balance running a business with spending quality time in the outdoors?

Well that turned out to be a nice segway 🙂 I think finding balance is a daily goal. There are times when you need to really focus on the biz and there are times when you need to get lost in the wilderness. For me, it comes down to asking myself regularly if I’m happy with what I’m doing, if I feel healthy, and if I feel like I’m on the right path. If any of those things are off, it’s generally a sign that I need to get off my ass and go outside.

colorado friends
GoodTimes in Colorado
What advice do you have for entrepreneurs who want to make a difference?

I think it would be that you should absolutely go for it and do it. My experience has shown me that it’s impossible to predict what will succeed and what will fail. The only way to know is giving it your best shot. The second part of that is to really make sure you are passionate about what you are doing because it will completely consume you. As an entrepreneur, I find very little difference between my work and play. Building something is very difficult, and it will take everything you have to make it a success. So make sure you love it!

Who are some GoodPeople who inspire you?

Patagonia’s founder Yvon Chouinard has really set the bar, as well as pro snowboarder Jeremy Jones and surfer/musician Jack JohnsonNasima Akter is an incredible female surfing pioneer in Bangladesh, who is fighting all sorts of societal and cultural pressures to pursue her love of surfing. She is featured in Heather Kessinger’s upcoming documentary The Most Fearless that I can’t wait to see. GoodPeople was able to help Nasima in a small way by sending a custom surfboard and gear from our brand partners that she has already used to win contests. In my personal life, my parents, my girlfriend Rachel Friedman and adventurer friends James Taylor, Chris Tanner, and Alison Teal are constant inspirations.

Nasima
Nasima Akter
The perfect s’more?

In my opinion, the key to a perfect s’more is the people you are sitting next to when you eat it and the remoteness of the location you are in. On my birthday weekend a few years ago, I hiked the Lost Coast trail in CA with some friends, and Rachel gave me a surprise s’more birthday present. We had packed super light, and she knew the only way she could pull off the surprise was by pre-making them and sneaking them in the pack. It was perfect.

Hiking lost coast

Follow GoodPeople on InstagramTwitter and Facebook for the latest updates!

Photos © 2015 Mike Elberts & GoodPeople



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