[quote style=”boxed”]Collect. Connect. Conquer.
Collecting ideas through brainstorm sessions. Connecting to people that are able to execute the ideas. Conquering customers to bring ideas to “real” life.[/quote]
Jasper Mutsaerts is a creative entrepreneur, world traveler and public speaker with a passion for his one main purpose in life: help people empty their bucket list. Jasper is the founder of Bohemian birds, the global travel society for curious minds. He learned talking and walking in Igogwe, Tanzania and from then on his tongue-in-cheek attitude and restless legs have dragged him through 60 countries, living for longer periods in The Hague, Salamanca, Amsterdam, Buenos Aires, Delhi and London, where he graduated from the London School of Economics. Jasper loves connecting people. In turn he is grateful himself for the people that connected with him at McKinsey & Company, Foundation Run for Human Rights Watch, the Dutch National Think Tank and THNK, before he caught the start-up fever.
Did you know that Jasper has emptied the following 8 items off his bucket list?
1. Played as an extra in a Bollywood movie
2. Traveled from Amsterdam to Beijing on a train
3. Participated in the unofficial world championship hitchhiking
4. Raised €80.000 for Human Rights Watch with a group of friends
5. Traveled from Amsterdam to Cape Town by public transport
6. Went skiing in Kashmir
7. Celebrated carnival in Salvador de Bahia
8. Started a company without seed capital
Where did the idea for Bohemian birds come from?
The idea to start Bohemian birds came from a “slow hunch” rather than an instant moment of inspiration. In the first three decades of my life I have had the opportunity to meet thousands of people from all walks of life. At some point I realized that everybody has certain experiences they dream of having, countries they dream of seeing, airplanes that they dream of jumping out of – but many people lack the time and willpower to actually go out and take the leap. A huge shame of course! So, Bohemian birds grew as a way for people to empty their bucket list before it’s too late.
What does your typical day look like?
On an average day I divide my time between the boring but necessary stuff like accounting, legal & tax; the projects that we have such as Bohemian Nights, Bohemian Blackbox, Bohemian Journeys; and building relationships with travel industry partners like City is Yours, Spotted by Locals, GOOH and CityShare. Of course, people are always the core of any business and for us that’s no different. Within the Bohemian birds community we have a strong focus on building and maintaining relationships with like-minded people, for example the fellows of Food Frontiers. It’s a great and exciting mix that keeps me going well past 5PM!
How do you bring ideas to life?
Collect. Connect. Conquer.
Collecting ideas through brainstorm sessions. Connecting to people that are able to execute the ideas. Conquering customers to bring ideas to “real” life.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
The trend that more and more people are going out to see the hidden gems of the world. Albania, Macedonia and Montenegro for instance. Not your average tourist holiday destination, but still the dream road trip for a group of Bohemian birds this summer. Fascinatingly, the travelers come from vastly different backgrounds: business, politics, academia, healthcare, nonprofits. This makes the trip and the traveling company so much more interesting and also shows that across disciplines people are increasingly interested in traveling off the beaten track.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Every Monday and Wednesday evening I go running with friends. It’s of vital importance to let go once in a while. Running not only gives me a nice endorphin rush but also puts me in a meditative state which helps with problem solving and confronting new challenges.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
When I was 18 years old I was working for a mobile catering start-up in London. At some point I had to sell tomato soup during an FA cup match, but nobody was really interested. They only wanted to drink beer. It taught me that sales can be tough and that a good product-market combination is key. Don’t sell freezers to eskimos, basically.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I would focus on a solid accounting system from day 1. There is no agony worse than repairing your accounting system retroactively for a 6-month period.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else to do?
I consistently try to listen to feedback from other people. Family. Friends. Fools. Customers. Even haters. There is always room for improvement and therefore life as an entrepreneur gets rather busy. But feedback from your surroundings is really valuable and it can also put things in perspective.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
The strategy to let go of one strategy. In the beginning we participated in a business plan competition called New Venture, where we developed a strategy with help of a coach. Rather than providing us with a necessary structure (which is what we were hoping for), it constrained us in our opportunities. After 6 months we pivoted our business model from a concept focused model towards a customer focused model and the business started to grow.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
In the beginning I involved too many free-lance people in the company. The advantage was that they brought their networks, but the disadvantage was that it took me a lot of time and energy to coach them and align them with the birds’ objectives. I learnt to become more selective and only keep the most valuable ones.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
A gentleman never tells… By that I mean a sort of confession based brotherhood where you pay a small fee and a bar tab to share a deep, dark secret or a confession with a professional gentleman who is bound by contract to keep it to himself. The psychological benefits of sharing sensitive information is well-established, but sometimes you just have nobody you want to share with – short of expensive psychologists. Sort of like the PostSecret website but in person. Plus, who wouldn’t want to have this job? Free drinks, listen to awesome or at least out of the ordinary stories ánd get paid!
Tell us something about you that very few people know?
You do not want to wake me from my sleep. The few people who do know this will also not forget it again anytime soon, hahah.
What software and web services do you use?
What do you love about them?
They save me time, money, headaches and probably heart attacks later on.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
“The $100 startup“. Reinvent the way you make a living, do what you love, and create a new future.
What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?
Over the last 10 years I have been collecting Lonely Planet guidebooks of places where I have been. The founders of Lonely Planet, Tony and Maureen Wheeler, have influenced my thinking because they are great examples of people that turned their passion into work. I have always wanted to start a global travel organization such as Lonely Planet and my dream is that one day Bohemian birds will become a globally trusted travel brand. For more info on Tony and Maureen Wheeler, check this interview: http://www.nationalgeographic.com/adventure/news/maureen-tony-wheeler-lonely-planet.html
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