2012, we had just graduated and were ready to start a career, but somehow we were craving for something new, something that didn’t just imply applying for corporate jobs. We wanted something outside of the box. And soon Thomas & Brice, quickly joined by Edgar, decided to create a non-profit organisation: the W Project. The idea was to travel around the world and meet established french entrepreneurs and report on their businesses and the issues they had to face when they decided to move to these countries. Once the structure set up and some sponsors found, we could start travelling. Thomas & Brice ran a first journey in 2013 and Edgar a second one in 2014. We shot video interviews and reports and published them on our website as we went along.
Today, the three of us launched mercurr, our new start-up. And we are glad we had the opportunity to travel the world beforehand. Here is why.
Firstly, travelling the world put us in a positive mindset to start our own company.
Both travelling and entrepreneurship constantly keep you out of your comfort zone. You can’t take any habits anywhere at any time. And it’s only when you start feeling more at ease that you have to move on to the next country or to the next idea. Not doing so will make you late regarding your schedule and your deadlines.
Exploring the world requires constant adaptation to the countries you visit. You get used meeting and interacting with different kinds of people from different cultures and social backgrounds. For example the conversation codes vary greatly between a Brazilian and Japanese. In a start-up, the same goes when you have to handle a conversation with a lawyer, a customer or your developer. Flexibility is key if you want to feel comfortable interacting with various kinds of people.
Travelling also gave us a taste of freedom that we decided we never wanted to loose. Of course, tasks and deadlines drove our project. Organizing meetings, editing videos and publishing content were part of the game. But we were our own bosses and we chose the way we managed our project giving the best we had. We follow the exact same path creating mercurr.
Secondly, you will be glad you ran another project before you start your own company. You already know how to overcome many difficulties and the way you work is far more productive.
When we created the W Project, every step was new and each task more painful to accomplish. Even the decision making process of changing the Facebook cover picture felt like hell (ok, maybe not that hot). It took us some time to feel more comfortable with all the tasks we had to fulfil. When we launched mercurr, it was easy: open the Dropbox, modify the Facebook template and publish the cover picture. Easy, it had been ready for ages!
The three of us also decided to keep on working together. It was much easier to start again with the same founders: everyone’s roles were already defined and we knew exactly which tools to use. We already knew all the processes to set up and the way we should work together. Travelling with some someone is a great way to discover ones qualities and weaknesses. We already had all these cards in hand when we started and it was a huge advantage for us.
Setting up the W project and travel around the world might have been the best decision we took so far. Of course, a lot of preparation was required before the journey and working in a nomadic fashion can be very demanding on many levels, but it was very rewarding and useful to get to learn from the experiences of a large range of people in many different countries and establish significant professional relations.
This was the first step for us in building a community around us and our ideas. We met entrepreneurs all along the way, chamber of commerce directors and many other professionals. We had great experiences with all of them. From this came trust and some engagement on both sides. Today, we are glad we can rely on a worldwide community to launch our new company and it can can make a great difference to go one step further.
Our community is also ever growing. As new W Project teams visited more than 30 countries today, we can rely on a huge and global network, but also target specific places if we need to.
Launching the W Project also had a positive impact on the general perception of our project. We were able to run it effectively during two years ourselves and now new people keep on running it every year. And people can see that and they feel much more confident about our future projects. Our team had already demonstrated it could do great things and be effective.
Regarding mercurr, the W Project was just the best catalyst we had. Our experience legitimated the start-up we’re launching. Mercurr’s concept is to help start-ups and entrepreneurs expand their companies abroad connecting them with the best local expertise they need. spending two years meeting people running companies abroad made us fully understand the issues they were facing and what kind of help they were looking for.
Finally, on a more personal level, being in contact with so many entrepreneurs gave us a really good idea of the dos and don’ts on the best way to start and run a company. Entrepreneurs told us about both their mistakes and best practices. They shared their mindsets and beliefs with us. Their incredible experiences inspired and motivated us. And now we can say we’re more ready now than ever.
Of course, travelling the world with an international project never has been a requirement to set up a company, but let’s just say that for us it was an eye opening experience on many levels. Creating and running the W Project was a great inspiration and now we feel confident to go further and to take it to the next level. Travelling was just the beginning.
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