Amos Kolbo first got into the world of business when he was 15 years old. His father asked him what he would do if he could do anything with his life. Six months later, at the young age of 16 years old, Kolbo launched his skate and snowboard shop, Amos 5-oh, on Main Street in Bismarck. According to Kolbo, the board shop was a great success that kickstarted his ambition surrounding entrepreneurship.
The board shop was always much more than just selling a pair of boots. When someone would tell me, “I need a pair of snowboard boots,” I would always respond by asking where they were going, what they were doing and what kind of terrain they were expecting. I think that education of asking questions put me on a great trajectory in life,” Amos said. “I kept asking questions and wondering what people wanted and needed to continue to make my business better. I’m very much a maximizer and dot connector. I love connecting with people and pulling the right team together to build something awesome. I love investing in the community and seeing people come through the door. I love hearing people’s wants and needs and finding ways to help them achieve them.”
Since opening his shop, Kolbo has been riding the entrepreneurial roller coaster. Despite finding success in many corners of the BismarckMandan business landscape, he can’t take all the credit. According to him, the greatest teammate he’s ever had has been his wife, Carly Kolbo.
“She’s an absolute rock star and she’s the best counterpart to balance my strengths and weaknesses, and vice versa. It’s been a blessing having her in every aspect of my life,” Amos said.
Amos and Carly teamed up to launch a handful of entrepreneurial ventures in a wide range of industries, including photography, real estate, life consulting and other ventures. I sat down with Amos to discuss his different businesses, his entrepreneurial goals for 2023 and more.
Carly Loves Amos Photography
Carly Kolbo’s first venture into photography was when she attended Bismarck State College (BSC). Through the program and her work, Amos became interested in photography and discovered that he had a knack for the profession. The two collaborated to create Carly Loves Amos Photography, a photography business venture that focuses on not only the Bismarck-Mandan area, but has taken them across the globe.
“Carly was really into photography and design and went to school at BSC. They have a really strong design and photography program. A lot of great people have gone through that school and program. Carly started shooting photography and I just love aesthetics. I could tell when a good picture was a good picture, but I wasn’t a photographer like Carly. We would go on shoots together and I would help her carry the gear. Eventually, Carly was asked to shoot her first wedding and she asked me to be the second shooter,” Amos said. “She told me that we’d just put it in auto mode, I’d shoot what I can and we’d figure it out. We had such a blast. It was amazing to be involved in and help orchestrate someone’s best day of their life. Since I enjoyed it so much, I went to ‘The School of Carly’ where she gave me the rundown on apertures, ISO and all that. It just took a little practice and time. After doing weddings together for quite a few years, we decided that we wanted more since we felt like we were plateauing.”
To avoid the plateau, the two hired a branding firm that would help them focus on more destination photography sessions that were both out of the state, as well as out of the country. From there, the two shot in Jamaica, Mexico, Australia and many locations across the United States.
“It helps to hire people who are better than you. You can take the slow route by yourself, which is completely fine. Or, you can grind it out with a good team behind you. We ended up shooting at so many different places out of the country and national parks. We were going to places that were completely bonkers because we followed our passion, loved what we did, cared about our clients and created an experience for people in photography,” Amos said.
While photography has de-escalated from their primary focus, they’re still more than open to the idea of taking more adventures together for destination weddings. Contact Carly Loves Amos Photography for wedding photography or for one-on-one mentoring sessions to learn more about pursuing your own photography business!
Located in Downtown Bismarck, CoStudio is an event venue and creative space born from Amos and Carly’s passion for the Bismarck community.
The space was originally created with the vision of videographers, photographers and other creatives collaborating with one another. The space is also available for baby showers, rehearsal dinners, bridal showers, intimate weddings and much more. The idea for Co-Studio was first brought forth when the Kolbos were traveling across the country and saw a different way of interaction between creative minds.
“We would travel to Nashville, [TN,] see other photographers and all hang out. Then, we would go to Oceanside, CA to shoot, and we met other photographers who were all collaborating. We decided to open Co-Studio as a space for Bismarck creatives to collaborate. We wanted a low barrier of entry. We asked ourselves how we could bring creatives together to collaborate, talk with one another and hang out together,” Amos said. “When we opened Co-Studio, we flew in the firm that branded us to put on a branding workshop. We hosted a launch and invited every photographer. The goal of the workshop was [to create] a place without the feeling of competition.” Now, the space is equipped for a variety of events, celebrations and more. Co-Studio is the perfect space for events that are too large for a host’s house or garage, yet too small to rent out an overwhelmingly large venue. “We bought tables, chairs, linens and more so that people can have their bridal/baby showers, rehearsal dinners, grad parties, corporate events or intimate weddings in a downtown setting. Co-Studio is a beautiful, historic, blank canvas for people to host parties the way that they want to,” Amos said.
Did You Know?
Amos Kolbo opened his first business when he was only 16 years old!
Back in 2018, Amos noticed that the cleaning industry as a whole was “quite archaic and very slow.” To solve this problem, he, along with two business partners, developed a company known as WeClean Local. The company provides a software that allows cleaning companies to instantly give quotes and let the customer easily book their house cleaning.
“Before WeClean Local, a cleaning company would have to come into someone’s home, give the client a quote and time estimate, then they’re going to charge by the hour and the price isn’t fixed, but we don’t know how long it’s going to take or how much it will cost. We realized that we needed to change the cleaning industry to make it work in our modern world. We wanted people to be able to get their house cleaned in a much easier way,” Amos said.
“Why can’t you just simply go online and select only the areas of your house that you want to be cleaned? After a series of drop-down menus, you get an instant quote. Next just check the availability of your cleaner that best suits your family’s needs. All with no contracts, so if you only need a cleaner this one time, great. Or you can book a recurring cleaning for a discounted rate. Our software will be smart enough that it’ll be able to analyze and calculate everything. That’s what we’re in the building stage of for the software right now,” he explained.
WeClean Local may only be in the development phase of the software currently, but this is far from Amos’ first experience in the cleaning industry. WeClean started out by building branches of the cleaning company in five different cities in five different states. Learning what the wants and needs are of both the cleaning companies and the customers they serve in order to learn firsthand the ins and outs and to see the industry’s strengths and weaknesses. Now that they have the information and knowledge needed to enhance their software, they can take that information and build something better that will serve the industry as a whole.
“It’s also smart enough to analyze when cleaners arrive and leave the client’s space through GPS, so you’ll know how long the cleaner was there. Then, the cleaning company using our software will know that Person A is taking two times longer than Person B. We’re providing the data and information to know the true costs of service and the knowledge to promote internally or where education needs to be implemented to your staff when there are individual needs. We’re creating efficiencies that small businesses can then build off of to create better decisions. Plus it will handle all the billing and accounting for you,” Amos said. “Now, we are strictly software-oriented to equip people to make their jobs easier. We’re in the middle of the development stage, putting all this together to bring cleaning companies to the 21st century while making it very easy, user-friendly and cost-effective for cleaning companies all around the country. We’re pretty proud that we get to build an amazing company here in North Dakota that will reach around the country.
Support WeClean Local
The Kolbo’s Airbnb
Did You Know?
One of the Kolbo’s rental properties recently won Best Airbnb in North Dakota as voted by Condé Nast!
Located one block from Co-Studio, Carly and Amos Kolbo offer an Airbnb for those visiting Bismarck. The Kolbo’s have a few real estate properties across the Bismarck-Mandan area, and also one with Carly’s family. Their Airbnb opened roughly a year and a half ago and is yet another example of the high standards and expectations of their business ventures. Their Airbnb recently won Best Airbnb in North Dakota, as voted by Condé Nast.
“We just thought about what people would want, in terms of comfort, location and aesthetics in order to build an experience that would bring people joy and comfort while visiting our great city. To create a place that actually works in that vein and have it succeed has been really awesome. It’s been a lot of work, but it’s been fun,” Amos said. “That’s kind of our retirement plan being that we’re self-employed. We’ve always thought that real estate is one of the wisest investments you can make. I asked some of my friends who are experts in the real estate field how they did it and where to begin. That simple phone call gave me the knowledge and confidence to settle my fears and lean into learning something new. We’re loving it.”
Life Coaching and Consulting
Carly and Amos Kolbo may have multiple significant businesses under their umbrella already, but that’s not stopping them from venturing into what really inspires them. The Kolbos are now beginning to venture into life consulting.
“Over the course of my life, I’ve always loved people and really listening to them. I love getting into the nitty-gritty of people’s lives. People are fascinating and so unique. I’ve had my own coaches, consultants and counselor that have helped me so much. So what I want to do for the rest of my life is learn how to love and care for people where they’re at, whatever they’re facing, and be a resource to them,” Amos said. “People think they’re messed up and I say, ‘No, you actually make sense and there’s a reason why you are where you are.’ I want to get into the weeds with people to find out how they got where they are and how to break those barriers, belief systems, pains, shames and more.”
Amos and Carly have been training under emotional health experts for almost three years, taking classes and more to advance their knowledge. Through life consulting, the Kolbos connect their clients to compassion and empowerment.
“Our approach is not behavior modification or a new set of goals. We meet people in their own stories and start a journey to thriving. Our goal is to be a resource to people. We’re still doing our other businesses, but we also want to be available for people because people have been there for us,” Amos said.
Support Amos Kolbo Life Consulting
Facebook: Amos Kolbo Life Consulting
Carly’s Calendar: https://carlykolbo.as.me
A Q&A with Amos Kolbo
What are your business goals with these ventures for 2023?
I’ve always been such a starter when it comes to business plans and companies. Honestly, my goal for 2023 is to slow down, look at the seeds that I’ve already planted and see how I can take care of the stuff that’s happening in my life currently. I love to build and create, so it’s a much different discipline that I need to get used to. I think that there’s more meat on the bones of each business if I take the time to water the things we’ve already built. It’s time to slow down, be truly present and see how I can better everything in my life, whether it be relationships or business ventures.
If you could give a few pieces of advice to other business hopefuls, what would it be?
#1 Pick up the phone.
I started the board shop when I was 15 years old by calling a guy who had a board shop in Montana. He essentially gave me the keys to the kingdom. He said, “Oh, I’ll help you. Here’s how you do this and that.” When I wanted to get better at photography, I just asked Carly. She supported me when I asked questions and my skills grew because of her help.
Just pick up the phone and take the first step. You don’t actually know what things are limiting you or holding you back. There are so many options and possibilities on the other side of asking. Plus, having people in your corner is more fun and less scary.
#2 have a mentor (or someone to help).
Your idea might be amazing, or it might not be a winner, but you won’t know unless you talk to people about it. Have a mentor, and then survey a bunch of people. Getting a new perspective helps you not only invest in yourself, but helps you invest in other people. Be caring, compassionate and available to take care of each other. You will grow faster with help and it will be more fun than doing it alone. I’m so thankful for every cup of coffee I’ve had with someone who was more of an expert than me and helped me build my life. I’ve also never regretted paying to learn from other people that know more than me in any area. Consultants, coaches and counselors saved years of trial and error in my life.
“Entrepreneurship can be lonely sometimes, and what good is success if you’re not happy/ It’s okay to not be perfect and it’s okay to learn how to get better. It’s more important to figure out how you can get better by finding nre resources to help you excel in the areas that suit you.”– Amos Kolbo
#3 Lean into your strengths while acknowledging your weakness
Doing so allowed me to go further by asking for help, rather than trying to do something I’m not as good at as others. Learn how to double down on and emphasize your strengths. It’s important to have a community that can all build each other up.
I think that we’re all created so uniquely and so differently, yet we sometimes expect ourselves to be good at or know everything. It’s just not possible to be good at everything because you’re only one person. Ask or pay for the help you need. You are where you are because of your lack of knowledge or experience. We live in a world where there’s so much knowledge and technology at our fingertips. Whether it’s personal assistants or software, we have endless resources that are just waiting to be used to make our lives easier.
While the Kolbos have already had extensive, significant experience in the entrepreneurial industry, they’re just getting ready to perfect the business models that are already in their hands. With an impressive entrepreneurial portfolio and a steady direction planned for the coming business year, Amos and Carley Kolbo are heading into the new year with an optimistic outlook on their business ventures.