Summer days, I was working on a project in the beautiful city of Struga laying on the shore of Ohrid Lake. One twitter DM got me by surprise. It said that they are traveling partners, currently in the region discovering the startup scene and that they are interested to meet me. Since I wasn’t in my hometown I decided to invite them to visit Struga where we can grab a coffee and discuss startups while enjoying lake view. Wasn’t expecting it at all, but the next day Paul and Kate from Inner Wanderlust were in Struga.
Paul is an entrepreneur who’s passionate about startups, tech and social entrepreneurship with a good slice of travel thrown in for good measure. He grew up in Liverpool, England and has worked in the gaming industry, education and digital agencies within the IT sector for 15 years, most recently as a systems architect. Kate is an entrepreneur as well, an advocate of startups and a keen traveler. She grew up in the Australian outback and has also lived in London and Singapore. Her corporate experience consists of digital agencies as a developer and project manager, most recently as a senior global change manager. Together they lead vegetarian, minimalist, nomadic lifestyles.
We did enjoyed spending the evening together, getting to know each-other and discussing startups. Then and there they shared what they are working on at the moment:
“Late last year we said goodbye to the corporate world in the hopes of finding something more fulfilling. We’ve followed our passions and creative brains which lead us to undertake a challenge of creating 12 startups in 12 months. It was a leap of faith as neither of us had built a business before but it felt as if it was now or never so we had to give it a go. We’re currently 10 months and 10 startups (updated) into the challenge along with visiting 22 countries this year. It’s been a busy and amazing roller-coaster ride. We’ve learnt a lot, seen a lot, made a lot of pivots and had a bit of startup success. All in all, we wouldn’t change anything for the world, we’re living the life that we want to and we can honestly say that what we do doesn’t feel like work. We’re documenting all of our startups, learnings, pivots and travels on our blog Inner Wanderlust.” says Paul.
After our first meet up they hit the road and went to Albania to discover their startup scene. We are still keeping in touch and by now I can sincerely say that I consider Paul and Kate as my friends. Since then they visited Skopje where we met once more, but our next meet up was in Istanbul where we used our day off, and I took them to my favorite place there – Ortaköy. We continued our conversation about their motivation and challenges through their journey and leaving the corporate life behind.
“Passion. It’s all about picking something you’re passionate about and of course doing your homework. If you’ve been thinking about making the switch for some time, have an idea you’re passionate about, have done your research, then there’s no better time to start! Get ready for the ups and downs of entrepreneurial life however, it’s not all double rainbows and working on a beach, well unless you’re a leprechaun who plans to teach surfing. It’s long hours, it’s 100% focus, it’s knowing you could fail and being happy to still try, it’s unwavering persistence and believe, it’s so many sacrifices but more than anything it’s all worth it! I’m most impressed with the pay it forward mentality of entrepreneurs. Having both spent a large part of our lives working corporately, where this was never the case. It is refreshing to see such contrasts between entrepreneurship and corporate worlds. “ said Kate.
Since they have been discovering startup communities around Europe and meeting startup enthusiasts for almost a year now, I was interested in knowing which country or startup community has surprised them so far, related to startup development.
“Kosovo is the first place that springs to mind out of the 22 countries we’ve visited so far this year. Due to their VISA issues they really are on the back foot when founding a startup from day one. The startup world is hard enough as it is, but try adding into the mix that you’re not even allowed to visit a lot of the countries you border., and lets not get started on the rest of the world The eco-system they’ve built through ICKosovo and the success stories on show, such as AppSix what they’ve achieved in such a short time and against all the odds is incredible. With Kosovo having one of the youngest populations in Europe too, this we feel is just the beginning.
Slovakia. Two words. Flying Car. In all seriousness we definitely did not expect one to see a flying car, and two, to see so much hardware innovation from Slovakia. In addition to the AeroMobil’s flying car there’s Bat Suite who are helping the blind via wearable tech, then there’s GA Drilling who are developing high-energy electric plasma to drill holes in the earth and then there’s the Ecocapsule portable house which is completely self sustainable in terms of energy and water.” – they both agree.
I’m sure we will meet again very very soon. Until then I wish them success on their journey and in bootstrapping 12 startups for 12 months. Make sure to follow them and be among the first to see their Startup and Deliver documentary.
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