What is it like to jump from an airplane and having to build the parachute on the fly?

As I entered my new co-working space today, the first thing that struck me was a quote by an unknown author that was displayed on a screen in the entrance hall of the building: building a start-up is “like jumping from an airplane and having to build the parachute on the fly”. Bam, that hit me hard. And it did so, because it is so very true. And I realized that already in my first month of trying to establish my product – so just how hard will it be once I actually get it in front of customers?

And then, I have realized something else: it is also a perfect statement for what its like to be moving to a different country and to be thrown into a cultural environment that’s different from your own.

But either way, I am drifting off. The reason why I am writing this post today is that its marking the beginning of a new direction for me and this blog. Intercultural communication will always be my passion, and so this blog will always be about just that – how you create meaningful connections across cultures. Technology, on the other hand, has never been a passion for me. In fact, I am probably even a ‘laggard’ – someone who is far behind the trends when it comes to technology. The reason why this is the case for me is that I believe getting to obsessed with new technologies such as social media costs you a lot of your time that you could better invest in meaningful things. In other words: in many cases, technology for me is a distraction.

But about one month ago, ironically I made the decision to build a technology start-up. In fact, it probably even falls under the category of a ‘social medium’. Cultuvaters, as I call it, is an online platform that acts like the Youtube of foreign news reporting. It is a platform where everybody can contribute content – whether it is written, audio, or video – about their intercultural experiences and then get a share of the advertising revenue in return. That way I would like to achieve three goals:

  1. reduce the stereotypes created by the national media about different countries
  2. create a better understanding between different cultures by publishing content about other cultures that has been written by people who are actually in the countries they write about
  3. allow people to make their living by sharing their cultural experiences with others and therefore give people in developing countries the chance to get the same earning potential like people in developed countries

In other words, I have recognized two things. Firstly, business is what can really make a difference in the world, because it is business that has the most financial resources. Secondly, with this technology start-up I can make a real difference by reducing the stereotypes that exist about people from countries all over the world.

During the past month while I have been starting to establish this start-up, I  have become amazed by the start-up scene. The start-up scene has such a unique and amazing culture in itself, which I have been throwing myself into very willingly. There is just so much to learn. First of all there are all these start-up related terms you’ve got to internalize: MVP, lean, pivot, and many more. Secondly, you’ve got to throw yourself into the world of the developers, coders, hackers and designers. And this truly has been a clash of cultures for me.

When you join a group of developers in a conversation for the first time, you feel pretty much the same like joining a group of people who speak a completely foreign language to you. First of all you understand pretty much nothing. Even if they are talking about something that has nothing to do with coding.

Their interests and passions are just so completely different from your own – its incredible.

And I must say: this has saved me to a certain extent. Over my past one and a half years here at Australia, I have somewhat lost my creativity and inspiration. Where it was super easy for me to write about intercultural differences while I was in Indonesia, is has become quite hard here in Australia. In Indonesia just walking along the street or going to the supermarket would give me so many new impressions and opportunities for learning that I’d have enough material to write about. Here in Australia, I actively have to look for things to inspire me. And the reason for that is simple: it’s the fact that where Germany and Australia certainly do not share the same culture, they are still similar enough in order to be able to comprehend each others’ thinking fairly easily. Back in Indonesia, it could potentially take me months or even years to figure out why people were behaving the way they did in a specific situation.

I know this article is a bit of a ramble, but the point I am trying to make here is this: the start-up scene has gotten me fascinated, and I will start writing about its culture and mentality from now on. Plus, I will also put a little bit of emphasis on the connection between technology and culture, and how they contribute to each other. So in that sense, I hope you will enjoy the articles that are coming up!

Cheers,

Tim

 

Tim

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