Never, Never, Never Give Up, Even If You Should
Today Jobbatical has a community of twenty thousand people from Silicon Valley to South Korea eager to meet inspiring teams to join for a year across forty countries, including remote corners of the Earth like Bali or Estonia.
A year ago today I was spending the first week in our first Jobbatical office in Northern Europe with my co-founder, Product Manager and brother Ronald. It was also the end of our first week with two full-time people on the Jobbatical team. Our third co-founder and CTO Allan was cutting his strings from his previous day job and would join us in a few weeks.
I had not yet closed the angel round and, having bootstrapped since March, I was not sure if we would be able to pay the rent of the office at the end of the month. Nor was I sure if I was able to pay my co-founders who had left their day jobs to help build my dream. More to the point, I knew perfectly well I could not cover any of those costs if I failed to close the investment round. Not to mention my own situation — having a one-year-old at home.
The uncertainty was daunting and despite the fact that I had seen the good, the bad and the ugly of the entrepreneurial life before, it certainly was the most bracing experience of my life to date.
But, hey, I was following a big dream and, having done my research, was well aware that there are no fairy tales on the path of a founder.
But we did have an office, and although we were initially working on cardboard boxes, there was something about having four walls, a key and a place for our coffee mugs in the morning that made us feel optimistic about our aspiration of changing the world.
Keeping our spirits up paid off: by the end of the month I had closed the angel round. Allan’s months of moonlighting resulted in Jobbatical’s beta-launch. We had arrived. The results, however, were not quite as expected. “Where are all the people?” we asked. Despite a TechCrunch article about us and some shouts here and there, nobody came to our site. They did not get it — or that’s what we thought. The truth was that we were the ones who did not get it. One year and thousands of discussions later I am allowed to admit it. But we did get it eventually.
On our quest to figure ourselves out we started to engage bright members of our own community — the early adopters of Jobbatical — who joined our team with either a longer or a shorter plan and helped us to see what we were missing. Thank you Carlos Miceli , Isabel Hirama, Giulia Cian Seren for being our very own guinea pigs for the concept of Jobbatical! By April we were much smarter and Jobbatical started to hit the skies. From two-three signups a day we went to seeing hundreds of people join our community every day in search of an inspiring team and destination. We started to receive emails from top tier talent from US, Europe and Asia telling us they were “addicted to Jobbatical” and couldn’t wait to find a team abroad to join for a year. We started to connect companies with their new teammates from half a world away. We started to see people following their dreams and joining teams in the most remote corners of the world. We finally figured it out and the magic began to happen.
In May FastCompany invited people to take a “jobbatical”, Mashable talked about us as change-makers, and Citylab of “The Atlantic” asked “Is The Future of Work Really the “Jobbatical”? In July Inc vouched for us. In August CB Insight listed us among the most influential HR Tech companies in the world. In September, after closing our second investment round, I was standing on the stage of the Techonomy conference in US as a change-maker in the future of work. It has been a good year.
Thank you all jobbaticlers in our community who have helped us figure things out. Thank you all the teams from Europe to Asia and Africa, who have helped us understand how we could help you more. Let’s continue that work together.
Thank you, Isabel, Ronald, Giulia, Allan, Maria, Laura, Rauno, Liis and all other allies for having devoted your time and energy on this whirlwind journey.
Thank you, my dear husband and my little Maya for all your understanding on the way.
It is just a beginning.
Here are bits and pieces of the very very very first user journey of “Jobbatical” (the name did not exist yet) I drafted in a Word document in March 2014 when I first sat down to figure out if my idea was something to pursuit further.
PS.1. My art teacher told me already in the 5th grade that I am not talented therefore have no expectations there! PS2. My apologies for the copyright violation, but adding handsome people in the story made it more inspiring to set up our journey.