One of the first questions people ask us is “Why are you doing this?”. Which is generally followed up with “how did you come up with the idea for Startup Diaries?” and “why the hell South America?”.
They are pretty valid questions. What makes two geeks leave their comfortable homes, take their business on the road, sleep in a Land Rover Defender for 6 months and interview people who are inventing the working culture of tomorrow?
Why Startup Diaries and Why South America?
It all started with having my backpack stolen in Recife, northern Brazil. It was the day after Germany obliterated Brazil 7:1. It was the (first) day I felt a bit uncomfortable when people asked me where I was from, and I sometimes would say that I was Swedish (instead of German).
During that afternoon I attended an art exhibition with a Brazilian friend. When we came back all windows of the cars in the street were broken and my backpack was gone!
The GoPro? Also Gone.
Kindle? Yup, gone too.
It was quite depressing and sad, not a feeling of a material loss, but that of a general sense of insecurity.
Being the German workaholic I am, the next morning I made a plan. I would improve my mood by going to a co-working space, get some work done (yes, working makes me happy!), and make some money to replace the stolen goods. I sat down next to Edmilson Rodriguez, founder of EducationDream.com.br, a platform with a great cause – bringing together people from poor backgrounds who would like to get an education and potential sponsors. I told Ed what happened to me the night before. The next day Ed took me out to lunch in the old part of town in Recife. Sitting at the table, with a that Brazilian warmth that few other nations have, Ed handed me a book in a ceremonial fashion. It was a book all about Brazilian entrepreneurs. “This is a present for you Fabian, so you can not only improve your Portuguese, but also learn about the cool entrepreneurial
culture in Brazil”.
I opened the book and found a note on the first page:
“Fabian, what happened to you is horrible. I hope that you will also see the developing, innovative, and smart side of our country!”
I was moved. A guy I just met had cared enough about what happened to me and about what I thought about his country, to give me a present to encourage a positive outlook!
Forming the Idea
For the next 1.5 hours, Ed and I walked through the old city center and what happened there inspired the creation of StartupDiaries.
With Ed every second building turned into a cool company, an angel investor or a startup incubator. Ed knew everyone, introduced me to people and after a while I had a pocket full of business cards. In my head, Brazil had magically transformed. What before were old and rundown buildings, had become hubs of innovation, with smart people working on cool projects. This was the other side of Latin America, the one you don’t read about in your Lonely Planet, National Geographic or in the news.
I met inspired people, full of optimism, with the guts to take the future into their own hands and pursue a dream, usually with the goal of changing something in their society for the better.
This was the Latin America I wanted to discover and share! And so StartupDiaries was born.
Three guys in a van hunting down the modern “Che Guevaras of work” who despite social pressure and economic difficulties, say “No” to a well payed and hard-to-escape job in a big corporation. These people went on to pursue what they really wanted to do. StartupDiaries is about these innovators and risk-takers, the lives they lead, their optimism, hopes and dreams, and above all the challenges they face and the difference they make.
StartupDiaries is also about us, Dominic and me, running an IT company from road, being an extreme example of what we might usually describe as being “digital nomads”. We are fascinated with the future of work and are convinced that there will be more and more people making the jump to being then roaming freelancers of the future. There are people that prefer to work free of fixed time schedules, of corporate demands and omnipresent bosses. The goal is to have a freer lifestyle, fewer limitations,
unpredictability and regularly inspiration.
How can you put a price-tag on experiencing the world while earning a living, not having to commute (except to move from one city to the next), and spending more quality time friends?
Bear with us folks, we just got into this video thing, it will only get better from now on.
Fabio, on behalf of your StartupDiaries team.
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