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Get To Know Alberto Espinos, Founder & CEO Of Tropicfeel

Transform strangers into friends, and friends to community members who share our mission and values.

Alberto, it is not every day that I get to speak to a very young CEO. So before I ask you anything else, I am so curious – tell us everything we need to know about you.

I’ve heard people calling me a “Millennial CEO”. Like many millennials, I have the passion and ambition to make the world a better place. Luckily, Tropicfeel has enabled me to become closer and closer to my dream. I worked in start-up settings and the finance industry before starting my own business at Tropicfeel. My previous experience working as an Investment Analyst at Crowdcube, Spain and as a Project Manager Assistant at Accenture had equipped me with knowledge about crowdfunding and financial aspects. I’ve always been an entrepreneur. I was a founder of Uwakeup BCN. It was the largest university organization in Barcelona co-founded by five entrepreneurship clubs of the most prestigious universities in Catalonia. Outside of my works, I’m a backpacker and travel as much as I can to as many places as possible, not just to explore the world but also to discover underlying problems and find solutions.

Congratulations on Tropicfeel! When did the inspiration first come to you? Please walk us through your journey.

Thank you. In 2017, I went on a trip to Thailand with some friends. It was an outdoorsy trip and we frequently travelled between urban areas and the outdoors, which meant that for one trip alone, we had to bring at least four different kinds of shoes. However, none of us was satisfied with the shoes we brought and we thought, how nice it would be if we had shoes that were functional, versatile, and durable. Shoes that travellers could bring along to all kinds of travel adventures. Coming back from Thailand, I dived into designing Tropicfeel Monsoon sneakers. I followed my intuition and worked on presenting to the global traveller community sneakers that meet all their needs. Leveraging the power of crowdfunding has allowed us to design the best travel shoes based on feedback from over 5,000 global travellers. We’re redefining the way people engage with a fashion brand.

You became a CEO at the very young age of 26; not many had or will taste that kind of success, Alberto. For the sake of the rest of us who had not (had that type of success), tell us how is that like?

The first major success I got to taste with Tropicfeel was when we launched our Monsoon sneakers campaign in April 2018 on Kickstarter. In about 50 minutes, we reached our funding goal, and 50 days after, we wrapped up our first crowdfunding adventure with a community of 26,284 backers from 151 countries, and total fundraising of €2.1 million. I didn’t expect that we would become the most-funded shoe campaign on Kickstarter. I was very excited and thankful for all the help I received from families and friends. The support from our global community and people around me has empowered me to design products with more purpose and which can bring more benefit to our world.

When it comes to branding, you are big on a holistic approach. Walk us through how different that is from mainstream branding.

Differing from brands which use mass communication to target as many audiences as possible, we focus on building relationships with a niche audience and inviting them into our community. We are a brand built by millennials and for millennial travellers. Therefore, while we gain coverage from mainstream, industry-leading media to spread our stories, we also attract individual audiences on social media with our engaging content. I believe that content is key when it comes to branding nowadays. By producing original, innovative, and exciting content, we’ve built a community from crowdfunding campaigns and a solid follower base on Instagram, where we express ourselves and convey our sustainability ideas.

Your branding strategy differs according to types of markets and age groups. Why do you think it is necessary for Tropicfeel to segregate your branding strategy?

We don’t just present ourselves to our audiences, we build relationships with them. To do so, it’s necessary to approach them with content that is relevant to them and which resonates with them. Our crowdfunding campaigns allow us to get a sense of the distribution of our supporters all over the world. We engage with our global community every day on social media to listen to and identify their needs. We develop our messaging, our future campaigns, and even products based on interactions with our community. That’s how we transform strangers into friends, and friends to community members who share our mission and values.

Sustainability is pretty much a keyword these days; with companies wanting to be part of the bigger picture which is biosphere and human civilization to coexist. Tropicfeel is one of those brands that emphasize sustainability. Do tell us what sustainability is to Tropicfeel and your plans.

Sustainability lies in every stage of our product cycle, from product design to material recycling. We aim to help people build a positive relationship with their environment by making sustainable living commonplace. To achieve that mission, we’ve partnered with B·COME, a SAAS that traces and measures the value chain of the products we produce and consume. They help us monitor and evaluate the steps we need to take to become a fully sustainable brand. In 2019, our sustainability score improved by 300% when we started using new materials and packaging, and prioritising maritime shipping where possible. 

In addition to that, we also give back to offset the negative footprint we might have by donating 1% of our annual turnover to restore wildlife in National Parks. We are currently donating to two projects in Indonesia and Australia, which have been chosen by our community. 

We take sustainability as a responsibility, not an opportunity. Our future campaigns will showcase environmental problems that haven’t been discussed widely, challenge the consumption habits of global consumers, and inspire them to embrace a more sustainable lifestyle.

Alberto, for a brand headquartered in Europe, Singaporean travellers are your 8th biggest backers. How and why do you think this happens?

Although we’re on different continents, we share the same values of sustainability and hassle-free travel. Singapore is one of the greenest countries. Naturally, Singaporean travellers would love and support our sustainable gear. Besides, Singapore is an urban city famous for being a “garden city”. Our all-terrain sneakers enable them to go on everyday adventures from workplace to nature. Our products meet the needs of Singaporeans who love to jump into spontaneous outdoor adventures outside of work.

To know more about Tropicfeel or to contact you, where can our readers go?

You can learn more about our brand and products in general on tropicfeel.com. Follow us on Instagram @tropicfeelcom to get to know the people and stories behind each innovation, and to keep up with our sustainability initiatives.

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Zu Anjalika Kamis Gunnulfsen is a certified Image Branding & Lifestyle Consultant. Born in Singapore and blessed to have lived in a couple of other amazing cities in the world, Anjalika is currently expatriating in Kuala Lumpur. Follow her on LinkedIn and Instagram.

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