CEOs / Founders / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Richard Nilsson, CEO & Founder at MyPetGo

Richard Nilsson is the CEO & Founder at MyPetGo, a start-up where you can improve your pet’s health & well-being through most advanced pet tech solutions.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

I moved to HK at 22-year-old to start my first venture, Lifestyle Asia, the first-of-its-kind digital luxury and lifestyle magazine, coupled with an online community for readers to assemble and discuss passions,  a city guide and an events guide. 

The business expanded to Singapore in 2008, followed by Thailand in 2010 and Malaysia in 2012. In 2016, Hubert Burda Media, a German-based media and technology conglomerate, acquired the business. 

The company was the market leader in digital luxury and lifestyle publishing and had a readership of 2M readers per month. We had a 35% profit margin which was unheard of for media at the time. 

Post-acquisition, I worked on digital transformation for the entire Burda group in Asia. I expanded Lifestyle Asia to India with a Delhi and Mumbai offering and a Paris/France Edition. 

In 2019 I resigned and Founded Rhino Ventures Asia, a future-builder that ideates, invests, builds and runs technology ventures that tackle everyday problems through innovative solutions. As a company, we coined the term future-builder, similar in some ways to a venture-builder but focusing on organic growth, venture originality (disruptive innovation) and self-sustainability in every regard.

The first venture is MyPetGo, a health and location monitor that picks up and processes vital health data and location data of dogs and cats. The monitor (online) data gets triaged with offline data to understand better how the pet feels physically and emotionally.

The data is explained in a layman’s way, so whether you are a 25 years old digital native or an 85 years old primary analogue person, you shall understand what it means. The super app then sends next-step recommendations on what you can do with the data and who, locally in your area, can help you with the particular issue.

The ecosystem will link the users to an array of service providers across on-demand services, telemedicine (tele & mobile vet), insurance providers and online pet shops selling various pet products across grooming, medicinal, food and toys. 

2) What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

I get up between 6.30-7 pm, seven days a week. Never use an alarm. 

The day starts with a cup of hot water. I add pink salt (Himalayan) and half a squeezed lemon. 

I meditate for 5 min followed by a 1H workout. I alternate between walking, swimming or cardio, followed by gym iron. 

I eat breakfast. Eggs and fruit. 

My official day of work starts around 9 am. I wear many hats and typically attend calls or in-person meetings while sending out 100+ emails daily. 

I manage a distributed team with members based in Singapore, Barcelona, Danang, HCM, Soul, Brisbane and Manila. 

If I’m in Singapore, I try to have meeting days and off meetings days. When I travel, I tend to be at Summits or in back-to-back meetings. 

3) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

I’m pretty bad at the balancing act. I keep telling myself that the weekend is for my family, but there’s always so much work. 

As such, I tend to do some work on Saturdays and Sundays. Ideally, I should not. I want to slow down and get better at disconnecting from work and connecting to the family instead. 

I’m trying to be present when spending time with my family and friends and not allow my mind to drift away to business matters. Easier said than done. 

If the hard work is to live a better life, but one is never allowed to live a better life due to always working, then what’s the point of all of this? 

While I aim to get better at balancing gradually, I live a few months overseas in my second home in Spain. 

When I spend a few months in Spain each year, I do as the Spaniards and slow down a fair amount. This means I spend more quality time with my wife and son. 

I also take some time off and explore Spain and other parts of Europe. Our home is in Barcelona. We are skiing in Andorra this time, going for a tapas run in Madrid and visiting my parents in Alicante. Both my wife and I like travelling, culture, wining and dining. Spain is ideal for this without breaking the bank and with so much variety. 

Elon Musk, Kobe Bryant, Naomi Osaka, Simone Biles, receive a new daily routine each week about some of the most successful people in the world.

4) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?

I used to eat a lot of alternative proteins (Beyond, Impossible etc. ), but I’ve stopped this as well as eating any greens that contain toxic defence mechanisms. I eat grass fed beef instead. I have shifted more to the carnivore diet. I mix this with certain fruits and other proteins. 

I feel lighter, slimmer, and denser in my composition. I’m less tired. I drink less caffeine. 

I’ve had to sacrifice workouts some mornings due to early calls with the USA, which I don’t like. I will try to make up for this during the day if possible. 

I’ve started travelling again. I used to be 150 days on the road in my previous life (pre-Covid), and while I’m not at 150 days a year yet, on my way. 

My rule of thumb is to stay at hotels with good gyms, pools and healthy food options. 

I have more time to look after myself on these trips, and my duty as a father is limited to two short phone calls a day. This means I can do a 20 min session in the steam sauna, go for a swim in the morning and do a gym session in the evening. 

I also tend to catch up with my other family and friends over ZOOM, or WA calls if not in person, given they live in the destination I’m at. 

I also read books and listen to podcasts. 

5) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?

I listen to Joel Osteen’s podcast every Monday. This would be his Sunday preaching. Highly uplifting. You don’t have to be Christian to relate or get encouragement.

I listen to most of Tim Ferriss’ podcasts even though at times I find the subjects rather dry. I like all the podcasts by Mike Maple Jr. His Podcast is called Starting Greatness. I like a16z mostly but It can at times present some dry topics. 

All of the above are available for free on Apple Podcasts. 

An interesting book I came across recently was Fans Not Customers by super entrepreneur Vernon W Hill II. It can be bought at Amazon. It talks about how to convert customers into fans over time. 

Classics I can recommend is: 

  • Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey A. Moore 
  • Zero to One by Peter Thiel. 
  • The Billion Dollar Whale by Tom Wright and Bradley Hope. 
  • The Four Hour Work Week by T. Ferris. 
  • Tools of Titans also by T. Ferris. 
  • Four Steps to the Epiphany by Steve Blank. 
  • Asian GodFathers by Joe Studwell. 

All can be bought at Amazon. 

6) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?

There’s so many interesting people out there. Elon Musk. He’s quite private about everything that is not business related. He also seems to have a bad balance and work ethic that his peers can’t measure. Someone more approachable, who travels like a mad man, Amit Midha, the Asian President of Dell. 

7) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

If you don’t have your health in all regards (physical, spiritual and emotional) all the money in the world will be no help in achieving anything that remotely looks/feels like happiness. 

Prioritise and make time for your wellbeing. No excuses.

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About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.