1-on-1 with Jasper Mutsaerts of Bohemian Birds: the Connecting Rebel
We believe that innovative entrepreneurs are the pioneers of the changing world. That’s why every week we go in-depth with one of our favorites and pick up some lessons about what it takes to be a professional rebel. This week it’s the turn of Jasper Mutsaerts from Bohemian Birds.
Jasper, 29, has a life story that almost sounds made up. It includes childhood years in Tanzania, an attempt to crowdfund the purchase of a Swedish island and his own travel company to help people fulfill their bucket list. In reality, he’s a humble guy focused on connecting people. He spoke to Roald Tjon about the challenges of being an entrepreneur and helping three people a day.
How would you describe yourself?
“Creating, connecting and discovering: I’d say those are my three core pillars. I love thinking up creative things, I love connecting people from different initiatives and I enjoy discovering and setting up new enterprises.”
How did you start Bohemian Birds?
“I used to be a management consultant at McKinsey for over two years before deciding I wanted more creativity and more freedom.”
Jasper began figuring out what his next step was two and half years ago: “I got inspired by Escape the City and went on the Startup Tour XXL to get a sense of what was all out there for people striking out on their own.”
‘I also had a worldmap in my room with pins on all the places I’d been. At a certain point I decided to put all those things together and created Bohemian Birds with the mission to help people complete their bucket list.”
How has Bohemian Birds changed over time?
“We started out organizing trips to places like the Balkans, Iceland and Georgia for young professionals, but we quickly figured out this was too much work. What we do now is we curate content on our website and resell services from destination management companies. We also generate a lot of our business from ‘lustrum’ trips — large trips undertaken by student organizations.”
‘That’s a real business lesson for me: You can start from a certain ideal, but ultimately you have to see where the demand is coming from.”
The Lesson: Running a business means evolving and understanding the demand for your product.
What’s your focus now?
Jasper’s current priorities are on expanding the business: “I’m not the managerial type and I have to find someone who is very interested in building the business further. I’m also talking to companies to potentially partner with, but it can be tough to know what to include in proposals.”
‘That’s the tricky part about being an entrepreneur. There is no book on how to write a proposal for a partnership. I have to use my gut feeling.”
The Lesson: As an entrepreneur you have to go with your gut and not by the book.
You’ve interviewed people before about their bucket list. What’s on yours?
“Kind of like you guys, I’d love to interview entrepreneurs. It would be cool to film people and ask them how they did it. I think it’s really interesting to know what motivates people.”
What’s the one thing you know now that you wish you knew six months ago?
“With good partnerships you can solve problems that might have kept you busy for weeks or even years. If you’re stuck on something, working with others could be a big help instead of figuring it out on your own.”
The Lesson: Find partners instead of solving all the problems yourself.
Would you consider yourself a professional rebel?
“It would be an honor to be called a professional rebel. I think I am one, but I am not sure if I’ve really tackled a concrete problem yet. I’m sure I will. I need to build up experience with certain things first but it would be awesome to set up something big.”
Which people have influenced you most?
“Firstly, my father for his ability to put things in perspective. Secondly, what I think is cool about Richard Branson is that - despite the fact that 19 out of 20 of the world’s largest companies all make one product - his company works in multiple sectors. I see that for myself as well and not just being Jasper from travel.”
What keeps you up at night?
“Financial worries for entrepreneurs can take up a lot of time. It’s not that I don’t have anything to eat, but I’m constantly thinking what can I do to make things run themselves.”
Any tips to other rebels out there?
“The only way to work with others is by seriously thinking, what can you offer them. You really have to think win-win. People aren’t stupid either and they’re not going to fall for it if you think up a bunch of crap.”
‘I also tell myself if I help three people a day — with an idea, a contact or a quick chat — then I help 90 people a month. I’d guess I help on average around 100 people a month and for that I’ve gotten a lot in return.”
The Lesson: Think win-win and help three people a day.
Jasper and Bohemian Birds are looking for a new CEO with a love of travel to join the team. Think you have what it takes? Get in touch with email@example.com.