Advice to Entrepreneurial Kids, an interview with Jobbatical CEO Karoli Hindriks

Entrepreneurism has been part of my inner workings for as long as I can remember. I’d find myself approaching everyday situations in my school or community with ideas for how things could be better, easier for everyone, and (of course) how more money could be made. It’s like I always viewed the world from a slightly different angle than those around me.

Then, as a startup founder, I met entrepreneurs. And I knew I had found my people.

I recently partnered with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America to write Entrepreneur Q&A, a column that seeks out successful entrepreneurs who are doing really cool things. I ask entrepreneurs I admire 5 questions that I think young, aspiring entrepreneurs are dying to know about startup life.

When it came time to share another entrepreneur’s story with the kids of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Karoli Hindriks came to mind immediately.

I first heard of Karoli Hindriks through her startup, Jobbatical. In May 2015, a buddy of mine tweeted this Mashable article which declared, “This job site wants you to ditch your 9-to-5 and work on a tropical island for a year.”

Yes, please.

I had recently shut down my own venture-backed startup and was looking for my next massive career move. I knew it was time for something bold and adventurous — just like when I decided to launch my startup. And I also had learned failure didn’t have to be fatal. I had nothing to lose.

A month after learning about Jobbatical, I landed my dream job and was boarding a plane to an island in Malaysia. No, I had never been to Asia. And, yes, I was anxious for what was about to come next. After working with the Piktochart team on-site for a month, I returned to the United States to stay on full-time as part of the remote team.

I’ve never been happier. Truly.

In this interview, I ask Karoli all about her early days as an entrepreneur and share advice she gives kids who are feeling the entrepreneurial itch.

What does being an entrepreneur mean to you?

An entrepreneur is somebody who gets things done. For example, there are people who talk how they would like to do more sports and there are people who put their shoes on and do it. Being an entrepreneur is having the habit to get things done.

What was your first entrepreneurial venture?

My first venture started from a school project. We had to create a student company and were brainstorming product ideas. As I come from the Northern Europe where from October to March it is very dark outside most of the day then traffic safety is especially an issue for the pedestrians. I had an idea to use the reflective fabric to make fashionable reflectors for young people. It turned out to be a unique idea and I became the youngest inventor of my country. I then decided to start a real company and to produce and sell those reflectors. This then became my first venture.

What are 3 tips you would give to first-time entrepreneurs?

  • Self doubt is normal. Get used to being on the rollercoaster from “I know what I am doing and I am smart” to “I have no idea what I am doing and I am dumb as a doornail.” Even after almost fifteen years of business I am between those feelings every day.
  • Focus, focus, focus. When you have an entrepreneurial spirit then there many distractions that come on your way. At one point during my first venture I was: an entrepreneur, university student, Commissioner in a City Council and a professional dancer. No one can build a business like that! If you want to build your venture you have to focus and learn to say no to any distraction that is not directly connected to your business.
  • Learn to make decisions. I think one thing that distinguishes people who lead and those who follow is the ability to make decisions — either right or wrong decision is better than not making one.

Do you have any recommendations for resources that could help young entrepreneurs?

One of my favorite books, which I laughingly call a “kick-in-the-butt book for entrepreneurs,” was Richard Branson’s “Losing My Virginity.”

What’s your favorite part about being an entrepreneur?

My very favorite part of being an entrepreneur is actually feeling that you can make a difference. You can actually change the world for the better with your own ideas and work and feel that your time spent on this planet was worth it all.


About Karoli Hindriks
Karoli is the founder of Jobbatical.com — a marketplace for international career adventures. She founded her first company at the age of sixteen (officially becoming the youngest inventor of Estonia) and she hasn’t slowed down since. Altogether she has founded three and directed five companies in the media, marketing and recruiting fields. This included successfully leading the launch of seven television channels in Northern Europe (including National Geographic Channels, MTV, and Fox entertainment.) She was named one of the 20 most promising young entrepreneurs under 25 in Europe by the prestigious international business magazine BusinessWeek. Karoli is also an alumnus of Singularity University. She is passionate about the unbounded potential of the Millennial generation, and confident that we are on the brink of an unprecedented revolution in the world of work.

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