Nick Kovacevich is a former college athlete who now excels at the entrepreneurship game. After graduating summa cum laude from Southwest Baptist University in 2009, Nick connected with former high school teammate and fellow entrepreneur, Dallas Imbimbo. After buying into Imbimbo’s PackMyDorm, a college moving and storage solutions company he founded in his dorm room, Nick helped secure an exit by selling to a California-based moving company. The pair then moved to southern California to embark on the next venture, Kush Bottles, a packaging solutions company targeting the emerging legal cannabis industry.
In 2012, the pair was introduced to Steve Jesson, who needed some work space to launch a new venture that sourced construction equipment rentals from rental yards nationwide, all under one roof. The Travelocity-like venture grew from 2 employees to 25 in just over a year, and Dallas Imbimbo left to run the re-branded BigRentz.com in its new Irvine, California headquarters. Nick took the helm as CEO at Kush Bottles shortly afterward and has been instrumental in the company’s rapid growth, which includes doubling in revenue from 2014 to 2015 and earning the highest ranking of any marijuana-related organization on Inc. Magazine’s “Fastest-Growing Private Companies in America” list. Nick still sits on the board at BigRentz.com, a company with over 120+ employees that was voted “The Fastest Growing Private Company in Orange County” by the Orange County Business Journal in 2014.
Today, Nick runs Kush Bottles and is considered an expert in the legal marijuana industry. He received an “Excellence in Entrepreneurship” award in 2015 for his innovation in the compliant marijuana packaging industry. A true entrepreneur, Nick is passionate about all things business, from founding successful companies in various spaces to investing and managing residential and commercial real estate, to consulting and mentoring.
1. How do you define success?
I believe that success is reached when all the important aspects of a person’s life are working well. This includes relationships, financial matters, health, intellectual pursuits, leisure time and recreational activities, and goal achievement. Only when all those pieces of the puzzle are aligned and tuned, can one be successful.
2. What is the key to success?
As alluded to above, I believe that the key to success is to have balance. You may have the greatest company (or bank account) in the world, but if your relationships with those most important to you are suffering, then you are not a success. Or, if you don’t take the time to pursue healthy activities, then you won’t have the stamina or longevity to reach other goals. Accordingly, balance in all things is the key to a successful life.
3. Did you always know you would be successful?
I believe I did always know I would be successful, and I attribute that to my parents, both of whom amassed a wonderful balance of achieving personal, financial, and spiritual goals.
4. When faced with adversity, what pushes you to keep moving forward?
I remind myself that the journey to success is more important than the ultimate result. Adversity is part of the journey, and it should be expected and embraced. Using that mindset, I can take on challenges with excitement, instead of fear. Although easier said than done, this tactic of shifting one’s mentality usually results in better outcomes.
5. What is the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned?
There is no such thing as “perfect,” and if you wait for perfect in business, you’ll be waiting forever. The way it was shared with me is, “Today’s good plan is better than tomorrow’s perfect plan.” In other words, taking action is better than waiting for the “perfect” opportunity. The fluidity of business makes it impossible to “perfect” something. It is the constant execution, in the best way possible, that will build something excellent.
6. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I enjoy playing basketball and spending time with my wife.
7. What makes a great leader?
I think there are many traits to a great leader, including empowering team members so they can contribute and not be micro-managed, and creating a culture so that everyone feels they are an integral part of a larger goal or vision.
8. What advice would you give to college students about entering the workforce?
Listen and learn. There are a lot of smart people around you, and you can soak up a lot of valuable life lessons if you are open to new ideas. Do not be confined to what you learn in college, as you will quickly find out, the most valuable learning takes place while on the job.
This interview is an excerpt from Never Give Up by Jason Navallo.