Chris Guillebeau was on a medical charity mission in West Africa a decade ago when he realised something that usually takes people a lifetime to figure out: Money isn’t everything. “It is only as important as one makes it out to be,” says the American entrepreneur and writer who recently visited India to promote his book, The $100 Startup. “My job is to encourage people to find success on their own; the money will follow.”
Money followed Guillebeau early. At 20, he was buying coffee from Jamaica at $10 a pound and selling it on eBay for $26. And he’s dabbled in search-engine optimisation, publishing and much more. So when the idea of seeing every country in the world struck, making it happen was as simple as listing out what he needed to do, then figuring out how to make it happen.
“I do most of my travel using frequent flyer miles that makes trips 60 to 80 per cent cheaper,” he explains. But that’s not all. Guillebeau has used every trick in the book to make world travel possible. He’s opted for credit cards that come with mileage bonuses, found round-the-world tickets that offer country tours, participated in promotional walks, looked for good deals and signed up for mass emails. He calls himself a travel hacker, and such is his expertise that he runs travelhacking.org, where he sells his tips for a registration fee.
Guillebeau also has a blog called The Art of Non Conformity (offering unconventional strategies on life, work and travel), two books and the popular World Domination Summit to his name. The summit, conducted annually in his hometown Portland, in the US, gets inspirational speakers, artists, musicians and entrepreneurs to gather for a three-day bash. Who finances the party? “It’s all done by volunteers,” he explains. “All the funds come in from tickets.”
No job, no boss, no steady income, loads of success and a lifetime of privilege leave – maybe this man is on to something after all.
In The $100 Startup, Guillebeau has collated entrepreneurship tips from over 100 new businesses around the world, hoping to get the wimpiest reader to think like a businessman. You don’t need huge capital, a bank’s blessing or an
investor’s confidence to run a startup, he says.
His favourite story is about Purna Duggirala from India, who found out that most people are intimidated by Microsoft Excel. Despite a wealth of information on the subject, Duggirala posted a series of downloadable tutorials on his website that has earned him an annual income of US$1,36,000 (about R74 lakh). Ka-ching!
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From HT Brunch, December 9
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