Jasper | From consultant to bucket list travel agent
By Eleni Meraki
I studied Economics in Amsterdam and London and lived in Buenos Aires and Delhi for internships and exchange programs. Soon after my studies I started working as a consultant in a renowned consulting firm. The decision was easily made – with my background and interests it was the best path to choose, as I wanted to broadly orient myself. I had consciously done that all my life so far – living in different places and travelling as much as I could to experience as much as possible.
5 THINGS ABOUT
BUCKET LIST | PILLARS OF 3 | CROWDFUNDING AN ISLAND | LIVES ON A BOAT | FAVOURITE CITY: BUENOS AIRES
LEAP OF FAITH
“What I love about entrepreneurship is seeing immediate results for the effort you put in.”
After two years working I discovered that my work was actually not fulfilling me and I slowly was losing my energy and enthusiasm. I was mainly missing freedom and creativity in my consulting job. It just didn’t feel right any more, I wanted to build something for myself. I started reading a lot about entrepreneurship. Books like the 100-dollar start-up, the 4-hour workweek and Business Model You. Different approaches to starting up your own business triggered me to analyze what I wanted to do in my life. I combined all acquired knowledge from my work experience and the books I had read and made an analysis about myself and my ideal job. I came up with three words: create, connect, travel.
I love travelling and always dreamed of being able to make that part of my living. Owning a travel agency always has been an aspiration of mine as I found the majority of the existing travel agencies quite boring and conservative. I enjoyed making bucket lists for myself and so the idea was born to create a travel agency that would help people empty their bucket list. With Bohemian Birds we create custom made trips for groups (e.g. for friends, clubs) where we combine peoples’ bucket lists to create an epic holiday for each and everyone.
CROWD FUNDING AN ISLAND
Our newest project: the first crowd-funded island in the world! The idea behind it is that we want to create an international community of like-minded people and own a piece of land where doers and makers meet, relax, create, recharge and reboot. We found an affordable island in Sweden, named it Böhemia, and the rest is history. We are now looking for people like ourselves to share this beautiful island with. With a total of 100 harbingers (with all an equal share) we’ll be able to fund the island and make our shared dream come true.
On holiday with my brother we started brainstorming about the idea of a travel agency and as a graphic designer he started creating my logo on the spot. That’s when the idea came to life. Just like that. I had made a simple calculation of the money I would need on a monthly basis. Through my network I found a freelance opportunity for a steady couple of days every month for the next 6 months and that’s when I decided to quit my fulltime job and start building up Bohemian Birds. I started with a Facebook page and approached people that were unemployed and/or just had graduated (due to my financial restraints) to help me with all the things I had no knowledge of - e.g. building a website.
THE TOUGH TIMES
- Starting up a company always costs more money than you initially scope.
- Entrepreneurs attract and inspire each other but collaborations could distract you from your own project. Staying focused on your own path is key.
- Time to market your company/product takes much longer than you initially calculate and expect.
- It’s hard to find people to commit to your company if you don’t have the resources to pay them what they deserve to be paid for their skills and input.
“It is fun to see that we’ve created a brand now that other brands want to attach their names to.”
Before I decided to quit my job I had made a simple calculation of the monthly income I needed to have to be able to live and fund my company. A sum of €2500 split in €1500 for living and €1000 to fund my company. I did quite a few freelance projects in the first year to get to this monthly income. Besides that, I had saved €15000 as my back-up plan. Now, almost 2 years after start-up, I am able to live from the money I make with Bohemian Birds although I am actually investing the profit in getting skilled people on board to grow the company further. I earn money from the trips we organize, advertising on my website and Facebook page as well as through partnerships I get involved in. It’s interesting to see how young entrepreneurs are starting to contact me now for advice and partnership requests – totally unrelated to the travel business as well.
5 INSIDER TIPS
- Take the time to analyze what you really want to do in your life. Ask yourself some honest questions.
- If you look for a business partner, make sure you get someone who is complementary to you - not the same as you.
- If you start doing what you love, opportunities will come along from a variety of angles you would never have expected.
- Read those books mentioned before in the article.
- Get to know your customers.
Written by Eleni Meraki
Eleni is the founder of Guts & Tales. She lives in Athens and enjoys roaming the world as much as she can. She is a multi-passionate entrepreneur with big dreams and a big mission; to empower you to live a life you truly enjoy living.
Click on the About Eleni tab to read her full story.