Bart & Sanne | From consultants to nomadic digital publishers
By Eleni Meraki
INTRODUCING BART & SANNE
I studied Economics and Sanne, my wife, studied occupational therapy. We both found a job in our field and were really happy. I was a management consultant and Sanne had her own occupational therapy / mediation practice. Entrepreneurship though, had always been luring in the back of my head. When Sanne and I got married back in 2006, we decided to write on a piece of paper what we wanted to pursue in life. Most of our dreams matched, so we started thinking about how we could make this reality.
5 THINGS ABOUT
DIGITAL NOMADS | 25 CITY TRIPS A YEAR | AT HOME IN AMSTERDAM & ATHENS | CHILDFREE CHILDREN LOVERS | EXPERIENCES OVER POSESSIONS
LEAP OF FAITH
Sanne and I individually wrote down our “dream life scenario” and discovered we had a lot of similar dreams. We loved traveling together and our dream life would consist of a lot of traveling, meeting new people and enjoying a nomadic lifestyle.
The idea of setting up a blog network arose from our own travel experiences. Wherever we would go we would stumble upon the same issue: it’s hard to find out where the locals hang out and where not to go if you want to avoid tourists.
We wrote a business plan for a blog network curated by handpicked locals and tested it with a few critical people around us. A little later we both quit our jobs and hit the road for a six month tour around Europe to meet locals that could help bring our platform to life. We asked our network to introduce us to local people in different cities around Europe and that’s how it all started. We soon found out there were a lot of travellers like us, who were interested in our content.
We have traveled at least 6 months per year since 2008. The initial plan was to live a nomadic life but we discovered that we longed for a home base every now and then. But when we were home in Amsterdam, we quickly got bored and wanted to hit the road again. We eventually found the perfect combination of 2 “homes”. One in our hometown Amsterdam and one in Athens, Greece.
We are a publisher of alternative and original city guides that are created by a hand-picked community of local writers and photographers. We call our community members Spotters. We have an app for iPhone and Android where we now have guides for 68 cities around the world written by 405 Spotters. The guides are available offline and after purchasing a guide users get free updates for “life” to ensure they are always up to date with the latest local hotspots.
We decided to start this business without outside investors. We had saved for a year worth of living. We managed to make a living after our first year but of course had to take a few steps back financially. This was something we had prepared ourselves for and to be honest, it was liberating! We went from two cars to no car, stopped many expenses, sold a lot of stuff and invested our life savings into starting Spotted by Locals. We are traveling the world and doing what we love. Our company is growing and we are happier than ever before.
One thing that was something we had to work at was the combination of our partnership in work and life. At one point there was no real difference between private life and work anymore. Because we were so passionate about our work we basically worked or talked about work all the time. After about a year we decided to close our laptops in the evenings and stop talking about work. That actually made all the difference.
5 INSIDER TIPS
1. Sit down and really contemplate on what you want to do with your life. It sounds so simple but not many people do that and hence don’t pursuit their dreams.
2. Don’t hire employees, work with freelancers! Much more flexibility, inspiration and less bureaucracy
3. Try to start your business without outside investors if you can. It gives you so much more freedom and saves you time.
4. Make a realistic business plan and test it with a few critical thinkers around you.
5. Just take that step. The worst that could happen is losing some money and time. The experience though is worth it.
Written by Eleni Meraki
Eleni is the founder of Guts & Tales. She is a hypnotherapist, mind-trainer, coach and creator of the women’s coaching program Be Your Own Muse. She helps women become clear, confident and courageous to be and live true to themselves.