Sparsh Sharma holds a Master's in business administration and a Bachelor's in electrical engineering. After having worked in top Indian media companies, he came to Denmark in the fall of 2012 to study at Aarhus University and later worked at Lego. A Danish green card holder, he is currently looking for marketing or consulting opportunities globally, while working as a freelance journalist for The Local Denmark and blogging about his experiences in Denmark. You can follow him on Twitter at @sparsh_s.
Startuptravels is a new platform that allows you to connect with local entrepreneurs and professionals while traveling. You can find a place to stay, a desk to work at or even meet over coffee.
How did you come up with this business idea?
I travel around the world quite a lot, especially to the UK to meet my girlfriend, and I realised it was quite a challenge to find local entrepreneurs and build a network across different cities. I was often forced to search the internet or scour local directories to meet with locals when visiting a new city.
Once, after returning to Denmark, I decided to discuss with some Danish entrepreneurs if a business could be built around entrepreneurs looking to connect and network with their global counterparts. We found out that there were many more people facing similar challenges. That's how Startuptravels was born. We had our landing page ready last July. Soon, a lot of people signed up. Co-founder Rasmus Frandsen and I then approached Henrik Haugbølle to come on board as the CTO.
What were the initial challenges? How did you overcome them?
The initial idea was to have this as a 'couchsurfing' platform for entrepreneurs. After finishing our customer discovery with more than 250 entrepreneurs globally, we changed the concept to a 'Meetup' sort of platform instead. Entrepreneurs are very busy and would rather spend little, but quality, time to mentor or learn and help other founders facing similar business challenges. This was a big challenge as it changed our basic business idea. Then, getting enough traction to get our CTO on board was another challenge.
How has the journey been so far?
Overall, it has been a great journey and the idea has been appreciated by a lot of people. I have met some incredible people. So far, more than 10,000 founders as well as startup enthusiasts have signed up since the landing page was up. We now have members in over 120 countries and more than 400 meetups have happened so far, globally. Ups and downs are all part of business but it's all about having a good time and we have had several great experiences.
How has becoming an entrepreneur changed you, personally?
I have had my share of challenges. Entrepreneurs learn to deal with a lot of uncertainty. Being an early entrepreneur, one of the main things I have learnt is to be able to navigate uncertainty. At the same time, freedom to choose what I do is the most important aspect of becoming a founder and I enjoy that.
Any other personal reflections and/ or message to budding entrepreneurs?
One of the most important advice I would give others like me is to love what you do and start your company with enthusiasm. And for that, it's important to find a project or challenge you are passionate about completing or solving. Also, choose your team wisely as you are going to spend at least 50 hours a week with them.