- Andrew Kozlovski, a 21-year-old student at the University of Southern California, runs a business selling cognitive-enhancement supplements through his company, Brainz Power.
- He says Brainz Power generates $US6,000 to $US10,000 a month, primarily driven by marketing on Instagram.
- Kozlovski wakes up at 5 a.m. every day and splits his time between working on the business and attending class. He rarely socializes outside of meals or the gym.
Unlike most college students, Andrew Kozlovski doesn’t leave much time for socialising. He’s too busy updating Instagram. Literally.
Kozlovski, 21, has built a business selling nootropic supplements, primarily by marketing on social media.
Kozlovski was finishing up his first year at University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business when he heard about students taking Adderall or other drugs intended for people with ADHD to finish their schoolwork. When he found out how dangerous the drugs were, he realised there could be a market for a safer alternative.
As a star swimmer in high school, Kozlovski had taken all kinds of natural supplements, so he started compiling a list of those said to boost cognitive performance. Then he found a lab near his hometown of Atlanta that was licensed by the Food and Drug Administration and willing to run a small order of pills combining the various supplements; he’d pay using the $US500 he had saved up over the year.
While supplements are legal and many people swear by their effects, evidence about their benefits are murky, and US poison-control centres have received about 275,000 reports of people reacting badly to them over the past two decades. The supplements industry, estimated to be worth as much as $US37 billion a year, is not regulated by the FDA.
But the burgeoning demand for supplements presented an opportunity for Kozlovski, who has built a social-media following selling a supplement called Brainz Power. Today, he has nearly a dozen accounts – with followers in the hundreds of thousands – where he posts aspirational content for budding entrepreneurs, fitness nuts, fellow students, and people who just like looking at pictures of cool cars and California sunrises.
He told Business Insider that posting and marketing on social media had turned into consistent sales of Brainz Power, generating $US6,000 to $US10,000 a month. He first uses the money to pay his college tuition and living expenses in downtown Los Angeles; everything else goes back into the business.
“I realised that if I wanted to be a successful businessman, I needed to start now,” Kozlovski said. “I thought I’ll learn a lot more from actually running a business while in business school than waiting four years to get started.”
But running a business while attending school isn’t easy. Here’s what a typical day is like for Kozlovski.
Kozlovski wakes up at 5 a.m. every day to answer emails and fulfil orders for Brainz Power. The lab and the fulfillment center he works with are in Georgia, so they are already open by the time he wakes up in California.
After powering through emails, Kozlovski likes to grab a coffee or a smoothie and head to the gym. Usually, a friend will meet him there. “My friends are just as busy as me, so we’ve learned to use everyday things like the gym to catch up,” he said. “The 30 seconds or minute between sets is perfect to catch up on life.”
Kozlovski gets back from the gym around 7 a.m., then films his first vlog of the day. He has an extensive presence on YouTube and Instagram to market Brainz Power and build his brand as a young entrepreneur. He said that before he started marketing on Instagram via his brand pages and ads, nothing was generating sales.
His first class of the day is corporate finance at 8 a.m. He said the professors in USC’s Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies had been invaluable in helping navigate many of the pitfalls of a new business. While he tries to be diligent in class, if he gets a Brainz Power email, he responds right away.
After class, he heads to a conference room in the Marshall School of Business where he spends the hours before lunch emailing with clients, uploading his vlog, and updating Instagram. Kozlovski has at least a half-dozen accounts that he updates regularly, as well as affiliate marketers who post photos holding Brainz Power bottles or comment on his posts. “Instagram has been 100% the biggest driver for everything Brainz Power. This product is meant for college students — college students sit on Instagram every day,” Kozlovski said. “The attention is there.”
Around noon, Kozlovski takes a break to get lunch near campus, often meeting with another friend to catch up. He graduates this spring, so the talk is often about what they will do next year. Kozlovski is planning to work on Brainz Power full time while developing a coffee-subscription service.
From noon to 4 p.m., Kozlovski is back in the conference room, catching up on emails, fulfilling orders, and doing homework. When he started Brainz Power, he did everything. Three months in, he found a fulfillment center to handle packing and shipping.
His second class, investments, is at 4 p.m. The school “has brought me a lot of value,” he said. “I didn’t have anyone in my family or in my hometown of Atlanta to come to for mentorship or problems, like how to run a business.”
After Kozlovski gets out of class at 5 p.m., he starts filming his second vlog of the day. “I like to shoot when the sun is rising or setting because it’s easier to film and it looks better,” he said. Then he heads to dinner.
Kozlovski goes home after dinner and likes to keep the rest of his night mostly unscheduled. He will usually spend a few more hours updating and engaging with people on his business and personal social-media pages, uploading his second vlog, and doing homework. “I leave it completely open for anything urgent I didn’t get the chance to finish during the day,” he said.
Kozlovski says he balances discrete blocks of time for tasks with unscheduled blocks when he is free to do anything. Nighttime is when he can make headway on new projects, like the coffee-subscription service he hopes to launch in a few months. “I like to stay on campus so I don’t waste time commuting back and forth,” he said.
He reserves the last hour before bedtime at midnight for planning the next day’s vlogs and last-minute homework. “It makes it easier when you set aside an hour for a certain task,” he said. “It holds you to it.”
While he spends most weekdays this way, he uses weekends to capture the next week’s product shots, Instagram photos, and clips for Facebook and YouTube. “I have a notebook with hundreds of ideas for Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram posts,” he said. “I’ll just pick one and go do it.”
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