Frederieke | From innovation manager to travel start-up
By kim middelkamp
From a very young age, I had this urge to explore new things. My father was a manager with an engineering background and he influenced me to study Business Administration with a focus on technology and innovation management. I worked for a year in Silicon Valley, which sparked my interest in web related developments and innovative startups. After my studies, I started a traineeship at the biggest telecommunications company in the country. I worked myself up the career ladder and was given the opportunity to explore and switch between different departments every couple of years enabling me to learn a lot different disciplines. It was a great experience and it kept me interested enough to stay there for a total of 13 years.
5 THINGS ABOUT
NEVER TAKE THE SAME ROUTE BACK | OWNS A ‘RUIN’ IN FRANCE | EARLY WORKOUTS | INNOVATION MANAGEMENT | VIPASSANA MEDITATION
LEAP OF FAITH
In all those years of working, I always had this little voice in the back of my head popping up every now and then. It would tell me that I should combine my creativity and acquired skillset to create something of value in this world, something I really enjoyed doing myself. It even kept me awake during my holidays because I was in need of something innovative at those times the most. I had this idea of combining existing technologies to make planning your travels easier. I tried to work out my ideas while still working in my corporate job but it didn’t bring me any further.
“An idea can only be explored by doing rather than by planning.”
With yet another change within the company, I felt it was time to take the leap. I decided to listen to this little voice and turned down the offer for a new position.
“I believe in focusing on one thing.”
At the start of my entrepreneurial journey I worked in parallel as a freelance consultant. I designed my website and started making a prototype website together with a developer. The initial phase of testing was a big success and I received a lot of constructive feedback, new connections, and new ideas to fine-tune the original idea. I started gathering the right people around me to help in areas of the business I wasn’t a specialist in, like the legal and accounting parts and slowly started expanding my team with mostly interns and a few freelancers. Favoroute was launched in 2014.
Favoroute is a platform for travel guides written by travel writers from all over the world. The guidebooks are made by specialists for a specific destination and are available for travellers on the website and app. We have two distribution channels: directly to the individual traveller, as well as via business partners where we sell our guidebooks to the customers of these companies.
The office is located in the heart of Amsterdam, where we work with a very international team of eight at this moment. Our travel writers are located all around the world and have grown to number about 200. Ultimately, everyone will be using Favoroute to plan their trips. Travelers will have the tool to discover unexpected places, truly get to know the soul of the location and, fundamentally, guide each other along the route.
Up until launch, I funded the company with my own savings. I had been able to save quite a bit of money in order to invest in my company. Just before our launch, we acquired funding through angel investors and a crowd funding campaign where we gathered a total of around €500.000. I expect to be able to make a living from Favoroute sometime next year.
All our investments were extremely last moment and some were very unexpected. Every time, it felt as if I met the right person exactly at the right moment and consequently funding came on my path. Ever since I quit my full-time job, I have also developed a new relationship with money. It is of less importance in some way. It doesn’t stress me as much as it used to.
THE TOUGH TIMES
The first year was extremely difficult because of my own fears and insecurities: a fear of the unknown and continuous self-doubt in my abilities to really do this. I used to call up my friends and family for support but realized at some point that I had to stand on my own two feet and get over this insecurity. The only way that I could do this was to change my mindset and believe everything will go as I wanted it to. In the end, it’s all in your mind. I decided to trust the process and stop overthinking.
What helped me a lot was to realize exactly how much I was thinking. A 10-day silent retreat in the middle of our crowd funding campaign was readily welcomed. It was a life-changing experience for me and made me much calmer and more balanced. At the start of my journey, I gave myself six months to make the decision about whether to continue with my idea or not. This six-month plan turned out to be nonsense. It was my controlling mind that wanted to create a deadline whereas during this time I came to understand that you just simply have to start and continue what you’re doing and go with the flow. Planning, and especially future predictions, are good for getting a sense of the business but once your predictions have been made you have to be flexible and avoid having a tunnel vision. Once in a while I check if my progress is lining up with my initial projections and put deadlines on any aspects of the business that require growth.
5 INSIDER TIPS
- It’s important to share your idea with people and gather genuine feedback. Recognize that your idea might also not be unique. I believe ideas are never unique; it is much more about execution than about the idea itself.
- Make sure you add a developer to your core team and don’t outsource this part of your business. Especially when you are still in the developing phase this will be your core business if you’re thinking of creating an online platform. By outsourcing this, you will never make it by your own.
- An investor wants to see that you truly believe in your idea. If you are not able to invest in money, show you are investing in time. Time is money.
- For inspiration I watch the online videos of SuperSoul TV - Oprah Winfrey’s online video platform.
- Create moments within your life to truly unwind and clear your mind. I use meditation to do this.