What is your background?
My background is in eLearning, TEFL (teaching English as a foreign language) training and meaningful travel. For the past decade I’ve been helping people to travel to amazing countries on paid jobs and volunteer experiences. I love travel and so helping others to do the same is a dream career.
— GoCambio (@GoCambio) March 18, 2016
How did you ended up doing what you do now?
Managing Director @GoCambio. Passionate, always learning, results driven. Army wife. Co-owner of one toddler. Loving #startup world.
From my background in the language learning/teaching field I knew how hard it could be to even get a conversational language tutor. I first started working with the GoCambio founders in 2006 and when they told me the idea of ‘cambioing’ I simply had to be involved. GoCambio was created with the idea of exchanging your native language skills for two hours per day in return for staying with a local host. Quickly our community started listing every type of skill that they could share and now you can cambio with language, design, gardening, dance or any kind of skill.
Why do a startup? What was the inspiration behind?
GoCambio is the second startup I’ve been involved in, I love it. I love the blank canvas and the enormous potential. Anything is possible. Of course some days are so insane that you question what the heck you’re doing but I wouldn’t change it. The inspiration for GoCambio came when founder Deirdre Bounds was searching for a conversational language tutor for her son and couldn’t believe how hard it was to organise. She asked herself, why can’t we simply connect these people to each other. And so we did.
1 min pitch what does it do?
GoCambio is a skill-sharing online platform connecting people who want to travel for less and learn for less. Travellers (Guests) share their language or skills with Hosts who have a desire to learn and a spare room in their home. Create your profile online and connect for free.
How were the last 12 months, what worked well, what would you do differently?
The great news is people love GoCambio! In the last year over 10,000 people have joined our community from over 100 countries. Most of our membership has come from blogger, vlogger and news articles, over 200 articles have been written about us globally. We’ve gone from beta to brilliant with a shiny new website and been listed for a whole bunch of technology and innovation awards.
If I had a do-over for the last year, I’d have so much more insight into equity funding and available startup supports. It’s the main area where I could have done better (well, that’s all I’m admitting to anyway).
What are your plans for next 12 months? What will make it a good year?
Upcoming over the next 12 months are more development feature releases focused on enhancing user experience and looking at GoCambio app builds. They say the worst thing you can do in business is do nothing, so we never stop looking for the next cool thing to help people arrange cambios.
A great year for me would see loads of feature releases, thousands of new members and people sharing their cambio stories all over the world.
— GoCambio (@GoCambio) May 29, 2016
Tips for other startups?
· Have a plan and stick to it, when you go off plan – go back and read the plan
· Avoid attractive looking cul-de-sacs, remember your core business
· Research funding supports for finance and employment before you begin
· Connect with local and national enterprise agencies
· Get a great co-founder (someone to celebrate the successes and support during the fails)
· Plan time off – this creates extra deadlines you have to meet
· Enjoy it!
How is it working out launching a startup from Cork, pros / cons?
Cork is a fantastic hub for startup business and a whole hosts of supports from Local Enterprise Offices to Cork Innovates and CorkBIC. I’ve found that the business network, even in such a big county, is close-knit and really friendly. Especially as I’m from Co. Down and not a bit local.
Who are your sources of inspiration?
I have this real desire to make a difference, to change or impact a part of the world for the better. I’m not exactly sure where it comes from but it’s just always there.
I have a lot of inspiration for having a great life from my parents, and as a parent myself now I hope I can inspire my daughter even a fraction of that. Work is too much a part of our lives not to love what you do.
Do you have mentors, how have they helped?
I have a list of people I’d consider mentors, some I see or speak to more than others but the key thing is having a network of people who you can pick up the phone to (or rather Skype!) Getting a sense-check or just talking out loud about a challenge immediately starts you on the path to solving it. I’ve learnt so much over the past year and am thankful to have had a lot of help along the way.
How do you manage life / work balance?
Badly, if I’m honest. Some days I work 10 hours in the office, come home play with my toddler, put her to bed and grab a bowl of porridge before I jump into the leaba [Irish for bed] myself (or start up my laptop again). My husband has been working overseas for the past 6 months and my team told me the other day that they were looking forward to him coming home as much as me – no more middle of the night emails. I’ll admit to eating, sleeping and breathing work, but I’m happy!
Anything to add / should have asked you?
I’m looking forward to my 2 French cambios coming this summer!