Steve Silberberg runs his business out of his home in Hull, Massachusetts, but the trips he organizes for his clients take him to some of the most beautiful places in America, from the Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina to Redwood National Park in California.
His business blends backpacking in the outdoors and weight loss together to create a fitness-adventure package that is proving to be very popular.
We were fortunate enough to have Steve participate in one of our entrepreneur interviews, in which he told us more about what he's doing at Fatpacking.
Steve, tell us about your current business. What are you doing exactly?
At Fatpacking, we take moderately overweight and out-of-shape people on backpacking adventure vacations in order to rapidly lose weight and alter body composition.
When did you start the business?
It was conceived in late 2002, but the first trip was in March 2005.
What were you doing before this, and is this your first business?
I was a software contractor for 20 years.
Who are your main competitors? How do you compete against them?
I'm not sure. Some would say it's REI Adventures, Outward Bound and that sort of thing, but others would contend that it's Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers. However, I've found that typical clients have a gym membership, but don't use it that much.
How has your experience in running the business been different from what you expected?
Although I expected marketing to be challenging, it's far more difficult than that. I actually have to market negatively. By that, I mean it's a bad idea to try to "sell" people who may not be appropriate for the rigors of a trip because then they must be evacuated from the wilderness in the middle of nowhere.
Is there anything you wish you had done differently?
I wish I had saved more money to fund the business.
What have you done that has been very effective in helping to grow the business?
Google AdWords is about the only thing that has truly worked in expanding the business.
What advice would you give to somebody else who wanted to start a similar business?
Base your business around someone who is a great marketer. If you find someone who brings in clients (money) you can hire the other expertise you need to carry out your business.
I understand you operate your business out of your home. What have you learned about starting a home based business?
One of the most difficult things about starting a home based business is the perception of your friends and family that you have all sorts of free time. People with full-time jobs don't understand all the business functions you must perform for yourself, such as computer support, secretarial support, accounting and that sort of thing.
That's definitely a challenge for home-based business owners. Thanks so much for sharing your entrepreneurial experience with us, Steve, and good luck in growing your business.