One morning, I stumbled upon this intriguing piece on “hybrid entrepreneurship” and found a pertinent answer to the classical questions: can you pursuit your goals outside work? Can you have a great job that you really like and also start something on your own? At what price? Would you be supported or judged?
Regardless of the classic approaches so many companies have, knowing your crew involved in personal projects it’s not counter-intuitive at all. In fact, it’s quite the opposite – if you set the right mindset and have a healthy culture at work, the people you care about and work with are ready to take challenges head on. They become more proactive. They take more initiative. They have more tolerance. You all grow – both the company and the employees.
There are a few stories – and they keep on coming – of some nice humans in our crew who tested these entrepreneurial waters already. I myself tried them with Basmofilia, an online magazine about mythology, folklore, beasts and tales, as well as with my freelance content writing project, contentment.ro – but now we’re here to hear more about entrepreneurship from other awesome people at eJump :). We’ll let them do the talk and see how the heck they can make it happen – balancing a full-time job and their dream projects.
Entrepreneurial Story #1: “Even though it’s still at the beginning and I’m sure there’s a lot more to come, I feel like I’ve already learned a lot.” (Sorin, coder)
On the left corner, an undefeated 1,88 m tall guy with a weight of 85 kg, the fear from the Balkans, Sorin! Sorin is one of those guys who doesn’t like to brag about what he does or makes, but if you have the chance to ask him about one of his biggest passions – programming and cycling – you’ll see fireworks in his look! Pretty modest and ever-smiling, but always up and ready for big challenges. Besides working for some of the most challenging web projects in the eJump history AND studying for a Master’s degree, Sorin continued to work on his personal projects as well – a calorie tracker app and a soon-to-be successful bicycle accessories & clothing shop!
Ever since I was a little kid I’ve dreamed about building something. I was always interested in computers and, at some point in my middle school, I started learning programming.
He has learned programming the hard way and, while he was in college, an interesting idea came to his mind that seemed to worth pursuing.
Back then, I was really into going to gym and having a healthy diet, so I started counting my calories. It took some time to do it by hand and so, I figured out that an automatic system to do this would be helpful.
Of course, there were already some similar apps, such as MyFitnessPal, but none of them in Romanian. Or at least none was worth mentioning. So I started creating my own website, initially named “CaloriesLab”. The first design was awful as I didn’t have any experience, and I had actually no idea on how to improve it. Getting hired by eJump made me work on another level and the experience gained here has helped me find more ideas about how to improve the design of my website.
I also made a rebranding by changing the name of the website in https://klorii.ro. During the last three years since I created it, the website traffic continued to increase and I’ve learned more and more about SEO and user experience. Now it reached a proud number of 1000 visitors per day and I look forward to reaching even more people.
On the other hand, last year I felt like I needed to work on something more challenging so I could learn new things. I also wanted to do something that I can make a living out of, or at least try to. So I’ve decided to start my own online store. What should I sell? Well, one of my passions besides programming is cycling. So why not get into this domain? I checked on available domains names as well as the competition and I decided to give it a try. I started designing the website as best as possible, as the eJump values have taught me to.
It took a while but after a few months working on the site, buying products, registering my company and signing contracts with the delivery company and the payment processor, I’ve finally managed to launch what it is now: https://ebicla.ro. Even though it’s still at the beginning and I’m sure there’s a lot more to come, I feel like I’ve already learned a lot from this project and I’m looking forward to the next challenges!
Entrepreneurial Story #2: “At the end of the day, it’s fun to feel so involved, get the job done and enjoy the results” (Florin, coder)
The idea came from this friend of mine, a lawyer who knew how important suit accessories are for men, especially in this kind of business. I work on the website programming and the photo editing, while my girlfriend handles the accountancy and administrative tasks and my lawyer friend takes care of the PR and promotion. The work is ongoing, we try to cover all the needs and in a way that wouldn’t affect our wellbeing and full-time jobs.
The Maluro project came to life in 2015, when Florin and three friends of his found out about a European funding program for young people. It was a Saturday. And Sunday was the deadline for accessing the funds. So you can imagine the pressure of preparing all the papers needed to sign up for this…
All four of us started at noon and in the evening we were ready. On Monday, we found out that our proposal was accepted, in the last minute and among the last ones! Of course, in the beginning, we didn’t know what we wanted, but we thought, hey, let’s take this chance and do something, it’s challenging and fun. We also had to make some of these products – accessories kits including pocket squares, ties, bow ties, tie clips, lapel pins, cufflinks, bracelets, socks – from scratch, to make sure they are as we wanted them to, super high-quality.
The results? Well, they partnered up with the Barbershop by Neagu Marius brand (Bărbierii.ro) – their products were exposed and offered during one of their Barber shop launches in Bucharest. Another exciting collaboration was with Florin Dobre, our Romanian designer who launched his collection in London and Florence, two years ago.
“We were proud to have accessorized the men’s outfits, especially since his collection appeared in Vogue and GQ. Also, last year, we were all happy when we got a Dutch client who liked our stuff. He wanted to get the Maluro franchise in order to sell our products in the Netherlands! Even though time was pressing, we made it in time and delivered the products there. At the end of the day, it’s fun to feel so involved and more patient, get the job done and enjoy the results despite the fact that we have no experience in this. We just wanted to sell awesome accessories kits for men. And we do it.”
Entrepreneurial Story #3: “My motivation for this entrepreneurial side is that it keeps me active and I feel empowered.” (Iri, coder)
It’s a little complicated to start something on your own, you know? Regarding my involvement with the “5 to go” brand – I’m more of a behind-the-scenes guy; helping with anything I’m good at. I make sure everything goes well and things don’t get out of control – Sara, my girlfriend, has the “5 to go” franchise and owns her own coffee shop & make-up studio concept place. We help each other.
Besides that, Iri works on a personal project – shop-my-wardrobe.ro and an upcoming brand of organic, coffee-infused cosmetics. At first, I just wanted to get rid of my clothes because I have many and I thought it’s better to give them away for free. But then, I realized that much of my clothes are almost new so I want to make this online platform a marketplace with specific guidelines where people can register and sell their own clothes. I’ll only commission.
Another project where I am a co-founder is also in progress and it’s focused on creating organic, artisan cosmetic products based on coffee grounds, which come on cool packages. You know, since there are around sixty “5 to go” coffee shops in Bucharest, the main ingredient would be almost for free! It’s a bit tricky with this one since it takes time to get the dermatological approvals and legal papers. But we’ll manage.
Iri always had this active spirit, to do something on his own. So he mingles various projects and his job as a senior coder with ease. In some of the mornings, he goes to “5 to go” to discuss with his partner – also his friend since they were little – or takes advantage of lunch breaks to take care of his side projects.
I love to do various stuff and not get stuck in something. The programming part will remain my job, that’s what I want to do as a job – I’m not planning on launching my own agency, it wouldn’t make sense. My motivation for this entrepreneurial side is that it keeps me active and I feel empowered. I don’t like to waste my time and I’m aware that I must keep myself on track with anything I like doing.
Entrepreneurial Story #4: “The most important here is a flexible mindset – this way of making time for your “work” outside work.” (Betty, coder)
And to sweeten things a little – we also have Betty’s Cakes (Prăjituricile lui Betty). One of our coder girls surprised us on Valentine’s Day with some delicious and really beautiful homemade cupcakes. That’s when we found out that’s the rise of Betty the cookiepreneur!
“What I do outside work is not quite a business, it’s just a hobby I enjoy a lot. That’s why I have started this thing: I love to make cookies and even the meticulous work of decorating them. The motivation is simple. I make something truly appreciated by others – who doesn’t love sweets, right? I like that smile on people’s faces after they eat the cupcakes I make.”
But these beautifully crafted, homemade desserts take serious time, up to several hours of work a day. “My work schedule helps me a lot since I can take care of my personal project, too. But the most important thing for me is the flexible mindset, this way of making time for your “work” outside work. For me, I like them both or it’s possible that I get too much emotionally involved in everything I do. Just as I try to take great care of my coding projects, so I take care of the cupcakes.”
Entrepreneurial Story #5: “There IS life after work. The point is to be careful and start a business compatible with your job” (Alin, coder)
When I was little, I overheard a relative of mine talking about this unknown “businessman” thing. And I asked him: what is that? What he told me sounded pretty cool for me and got stuck in my mind for a long time. Over the years, because of that and of the fact that my parents weren’t working what they loved to do, I decided that it’s pointless just to learn to become another typical employee. I wanted freedom.
Alin was attracted of this “making your own business” idea. Even though he has a job where he doesn’t feel that uncomfortable sense of authority at all, he told himself that he’ll become his own boss somehow.
And that’s what I think a business is – something that creates value even though you don’t actively work. Besides that, I think of it as of a game. You have to be careful of the game rules, of the fact that people change, that you have competition and no day is the same – especially since we’re a young generation that easily gets bored – and that’s the thrill of it.
I stumbled upon the entrepreneurial trend during my studying years of Economics, and realized that it became a buzzword. Everyone wants to do it, but not for its real purpose. I see a big difference between a businessman and an entrepreneur. It’s one thing to own a pub around the block, another thing is to be like Elon Musk, for example, and innovate. The latter has more impact not only locally, but worldwide. That’s why I think real entrepreneurial mindset is more complex on the long term.
But he doesn’t want to do this right now.
After a lot of brainstorming, trial and error and thinking, I realized that it’s better to focus not on what I can do for the world, but what I can do for the local community, starting from my own needs. Don’t start several things at once, because you’ll finish none.
One morning, his first real project – providing organic toothbrush packages on a regular basis for the subscribers – unfolded itself.
I found myself one day, brushing my teeth and stressing about when I should buy a new tooth brush and so on. So I worked several months on planning this project, programming a website, researching, dealing with the providers and really selling it for a while. I changed the marketing plan a couple of times depending of the feedback and focusing on the value proposition – convenience. And the fact that the products are eco-friendly, vegan, organic!
There IS life after work. The point is to be careful to start a business compatible with your job. Given the flexible schedule at eJump, the support I receive and the fact that I enjoy what I do here, I got to use my resources efficiently without leaving the office tired of frustrated, even if it’s a full-time job. Call it luck, but it’s a cool job where nobody stresses you out, so maybe I’m in a good place, you know.
The stories keep on coming, though. There are more among us – if not all of us – who started something on their own, a dear personal project or a totally different one from the job they have. Our designer George started an online project which delivers free gifts from all around the world to people in Romania, our project manager Andreea has just launched her own creative project that makes sure you get the most awesome ideas – from concept to planning – for anything you need, and the storyteller – yours truly – has an online project that promotes all sorts of debates and stories about myths, traditions, rituals, magic tales and creatures and for artists who focus on these fantasy themes.
It’s about the ups and downs of a path that we should encourage more among our peers, friends, colleagues, employees: do what you love, work on making your ambitions a reality – in and out of office. Be a nice human and help other grow in the right environment for you and them. This is where respect, success and true loyalty reside.