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Dreamers: “They told me It was impossible and I did it anyway” With Linas Ceikus of Tinggly

We’re on a mission to change the culture of gifting, this is our essence and our purpose. Our motto is ‘give stories, not stuff’. We genuinely believe experiences are much better gifts than things, they create memories that last forever and stories to share and relive with friends and family.

As a part of our series about “dreamers who ignored the naysayers and did what others said was impossible”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Linas Ceikus.

Linas Ceikus is a serial entrepreneur and adventure traveler, and the Co-Founder and Chief Experience Officer at Tinggly, the world’s first and only global experience gifting company. Linas started Tinggly in 2014 as a result of his experiences as an entrepreneur of over 20 years in the travel industry. An avid traveler and adventurer himself, Linas strongly believes experiences are the best gift people can give each other, as the memories they create are longer lasting and more meaningful than any material objects.

Linas was born and bred in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania. At the age of 14, he already began his entrepreneurial journey manufacturing disco lights and organizing disco events for schools. The first major enterprise Linas built was Autorenta, a car hire company with transfers and tours for tourists and business travelers to the Baltics. Linas also started the first activity service company in Lithuania, ActiveHolidays, which provided adventure experiences such as supercars driving, a vertical wind tunnel and various ‘dinner in the dark’ restaurants. After expanding to the rest of the Baltic countries, he sold the business.

In 2006 Linas founded Laisvalaikio Dovanos, Lithuania’s first online experience gift company.

Following its success, he expanded the business into Poland, Latvia, Estonia, and Finland, creating daughter companies for each market, later bringing them together under the umbrella of the Tinggly Group. With Tinggly, the latest addition to the group, Linas wanted to create a company that could make a global impact from the start, and that enabled the buyer of the gift, the recipient of the gift, and the experience itself to all be in different countries. For him, it was also important for Tinggly to make it easy to combine experiences with travel in order to enhance those trips.

Linas is proud to have sold over 1.5 million experiences and spread happiness to customers from 103 countries with his companies. Linas is a fan of traveling and has been to over 62 countries. He believes in growth through physical and spiritual activities. He particularly enjoys motorsports such as quad driving, 4x4 off-roading as well as yoga and meditation on the spiritual side. Although quite the challenge at this stage, he still looks out for new experiences to try out and add to the Tinggly repertoire. His next dream experience is participating in the Morocco Desert Challenge rally, Africa’s biggest cross- country rally raid.

Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to ‘get to know you’ a bit better. Can you tell us your ‘backstory’?

I’ve never had a ‘normal’ job. As far as I can remember, I have always wanted to build something of my own. So, straight out of university, I set up a car rental business. But that was only my first step in an industry that I wanted to get into. I had more exciting things in mind than renting cars.

As a student, I had an interesting stay in Florida. I spent time there thanks to the Work and Travel program. I lived out a number of amazing experiences that shaped my life when I returned to Lithuania. Even the unintended ones, like being stopped by the police for returning my moped slightly late.

So I decided to start working with foreign tourists visiting Lithuania to provide them with fun and unique experiences. Joined by friends from the UK, we kick-started the bachelor party market in the Baltics and saw it boom.

It’s a British tradition. Fly to a European destination with a number of friends for a few days and make an entire trip out of your bachelor party. Far more than just nightlife, destinations are chosen based on the value of the overall experience.

Our job was to make Lithuania an attractive destination, and to do so we offered truly unique experiences, including flying fighter jets, shooting kalashnikov machine guns and going on some seriously insane rally drives.

I often participated in my experiences. Mostly to make sure they run smoothly but found myself really enjoying them, sharing the joy with the others. Obviously this love of experiences as part of the journey towards creating what would become an experience gift businesses.

One of the key triggers for me to get in the experience gifting industry was the dependency on the UK bachelor party market and wanting to diversify away from depending on that. The big question was whether the local markets had enough purchasing power to support my dreams.

But what motivated me the most was the opportunity to showcase experiences that are not normally known to everyone that could make a difference, bring a new moment of happiness to anyone, and a memory to cherish. I thought I had been lucky to live so many experiences and wanted to share it with others. Although at the time I had only a vague notion, I knew experiences were something people were craving for and which could bring more to the table than the usual physical gifts.

Are you working on any new or exciting projects now? How do you think that will help people?

We’re constantly working to improve how the company works while contributing to the environment and social good. I’m really proud of our shift last year to become a game-changer and leader in the sustainability space. We’ve blown away the competitors and become real trailblazers by offsetting 200% of carbon emissions from all experiences and becoming a zero plastic company. In fact, we even remove 30lbs of trash for each gift bought, we’re carbon positive as a company, meaning that we also offset 200% from all operations, not only experiences.

We’ve also developed an idea that every customer of ours should be an activist for the environment by proxy, thereby our concept of the Tinggly Activist was born. It encompasses our sustainability initiatives and more, giving customers both information and ownership of their impact, however small, to help the environment. We’re really excited to see so many people engaging with us over this.

We are also very active in trying to innovate when it comes to marketing. We’re still developing our Blogger House concept, which launched last year in Vilnius, Lithuania. We’ve seen loads of interest from bloggers and vloggers around the world who want to stay with us. The deal is the following: we created a dedicated space where bloggers, vloggers, and others active in speaking to audiences in travel can stay in Vilnius. It’s an incredible loft with professional photography backgrounds, an electric scooter available, and more. Plus, we offer to go on experiences around Vilnius. We will have a mobile experience vlogger vehicle coming soon so that we can take the concept internationally.

We’re constantly searching for ways in which we can do more. We’re open to innovate and try new things.

In your opinion, what do you think makes your company or organization stand out from the crowd?

We’re on a mission to change the culture of gifting, this is our essence and our purpose. Our motto is ‘give stories, not stuff’. We genuinely believe experiences are much better gifts than things, they create memories that last forever and stories to share and relive with friends and family.

The way we’re doing this is with sustainability at our core, we’re simplifying the way that people can gift happiness and inspiring others to make a positive change for the world. We want every gift to have an impact for good.

From a logistical point of view, we are also unique. Tinggly is the first and only global experience gifting company in the world in which the buyer, the gift recipient and the experience chosen can all be in different countries. We want to provide the coolest gift solution for everyone everywhere when they need a gift.

Ok, thank you for that. I’d like to jump to the main focus of this interview. Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us? What was your idea? What was the reaction of the naysayers? And how did you overcome that?

It happens all the time. A natural part of starting a new business is sharing the idea with friends and family before eventually embarking on the journey. I’ve started a number of businesses, and I always faced strong skepticism. But this is especially true of my two most important projects, Lasvalaikio Dovanos and Tinggly.

Laisvalaikio Dovanos, which stands for leisure gifts in Lithuanian, eventually became the largest experience gifting company in the Baltics, with presence also in Poland and Finland. But when I started my first experiences company, loads of people claimed it would not be possible to create an experience gift business that could be built with clients from the Baltics. Experiences such as hot air balloon rides or supercar driving were seen as unnecessary luxuries.

At the time the economies in Eastern Europe were transitioning, incomes were still low. But they were growing. With that growth, I sensed an opportunity. I could feel that, like with myself, people would want to use their additional income to enrich their lives with experiences, and not just things.

My first hire laughed at me during the interview. He said it would never work. Imagine that, during the interview, the guy said the idea was stupid. Despite his skepticism, and perhaps taking it as a personal challenge, I took a chance on him and hired him. I also challenged him to believe in me, and in the end, he helped grow the company for several years. It was fun to remind him of his thoughts at the interview with every year that we grew.

Then came Tinggly, which constituted a much more global approach. By starting in the Baltics I was able to expand, grow, learn and evolve. Building Tinggly from scratch was also a big challenge. And, again, most I talked to said that to build an international business from Lithuania was nigh on impossible. But I knew it was worth a shot.

It’s funny how if I’d listened to this initial resistance I would never have started out with my first project in the Baltics. Later, I would not have started Tinggly.

I think there’s a lesson there for all of us when people tell us our ideas are crazy.

In the end, how were all the naysayers proven wrong? :-)

It didn’t take long for the naysayers to see the results. The most obvious example is my first, skeptical employee. He started working and as the sales started to roll in, he began to believe. We also had plenty of partners who either didn’t understand the concept or didn’t believe in us. In both cases, we kept pushing forward and in the end, they couldn’t ignore us.

For example, when we started out our suppliers just didn’t understand the concept. No one had done it before. So when we said that we wanted to sell their experiences as gifts they were puzzled. They didn’t get how it worked or if anyone would buy the gifts. So this meant an extra struggle for us — all payments needed to be upfront. Naturally, as we grew, they got used to the idea of a client turning up with a voucher, excited and looking forward to the experiences.

I think that’s a natural part of some new businesses. If people or the market in general haven’t seen the concept before it will take time to educate them. I can happily look back and say that the education process has been frustrating at times but ultimately rewarding.

It does take resilience to prove naysayers wrong. It also takes a whole lot of guts to keep pushing when others don’t believe it. But at the same time, that is a sign that you are onto something special, something new, something others haven’t dared to yet.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I have a short story from a few years ago that I would like to share. It’s not the mind-blowing adrenaline-inducing experience you might imagine, but one about family.

Apart from the support my family gives me on a daily basis, there was a moment that perfectly represented how they give me the confidence to continue on the quest of sharing experiences.

A few years back I was in Mexico with my wife and baby daughter. We were spending some time in the sunshine and, naturally, trying some new experiences. Under blue skies in Cancun, we sat in a six-seater light aircraft. Big planes were buzzing all around. We felt the hot dry heat around us. After taking off, we soaked up the sights of the swamps, lagoons, forests and beautiful sunshine. The friendly pilot made us feel good, at ease and comfortable.

The pilot suddenly remembered he hadn’t turned on any music. He turned on the radio and on came a tune. I don’t remember what it was but it triggered something inside me. The experience was complete. I was holding my daughter, I felt the rumble of the plane, the power of the music. I welled up with emotion and began to cry. I realized something about life. That this was the life worth living and sharing. This was a moment when I felt truly fulfilled in life.

The moment was precious for me. I also realized the value of family, and the support and love I was receiving. I would be nowhere near where I am now without them.

It must not have been easy to ignore all the naysayers. Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Can you share the story with us?

One particular story from my childhood was especially formative for me. My grandfather lived close by and I enjoyed spending time with him. He had a workshop in our garden and I spent a lot of time one summer helping him out — for which I earned some money. In fact, back in the day, it was a lot of money. I had worked hard and deserved it. Anyway, I had this stack of cash in my pocket and went to buy ice-cream and chewing gum. It felt great to spend this hard-earned cash. Along the way to this little kiosk, I lost the cash. I was devastated. I went home and cried. I talked to my Dad about it, how upset I felt and how angry I was with myself.

I made a decision there and then that I would go back, work twice as hard and earn even more all over again. I was a little kid, but I’ve stuck to this thought ever since.

Resilience is something that has to be nurtured beyond childhood, and frequently. Some key moments over the last few years have been journeys to South America with a Shaman, breathing meditation and ice-baths with Wim Hof, biking in the Himalayas. I also did a Master’s degree with Steve Neale, a British philosopher specializing in cognitive science and linguistics, a few years back to explore happiness and how experience gifting positively affects this. All of the above have helped me to understand myself better and make myself stronger.

I’m constantly trying to build resilience by challenging my comfort zone. I’m the kind of person who doesn’t care what others think of me. I’m happy to do my own thing. Over the last few years that has helped me to grow as an individual, partner, husband, father, CEO, leader, and push my physical and spiritual boundaries.

Based on your experience, can you share 5 strategies that people can use to harness the sense of tenacity and do what naysayers think is impossible? (Please share a story or an example for each)

How would a person X do it?

How would Richard Branson do it? How would Elon Musk do it? Sometimes it’s useful to step out of your own shoes and reflect. Think of others that triumphed in the face of adversity. Before Ford, nobody thought they needed cars. How did he create something people didn’t know they wanted? How are others doing it today?

Trust your gut. Trust your feelings more than your logic. Don’t overthink.

We are trying to build a brand that is genuine, which is environmentally friendly and that resonates with people. You will not always identify a number ROI, and that is OK. But if you know that it will work, it’s worth a try. This is how we decided to open Blogger House and start Tinggly Activists.

Has the naysayer tried it him or herself?

Don’t confuse theory or opinion with experience. Random example. I’ve heard a number of people say it’s very dangerous to drive in Pakistan or India. But how many drove there themselves or have been to the country?

I am travelling to Pakistan and everyone is advising me against it, but I will be driving a motorcycle.

The majority of people think within boundaries.

Standard thinking is inside the box. Therefore, if your ideas are outside the box it’s common to see resistance and negativity. Accept that and go even further — expect it to be so.

The ideas for my two most important companies faced skepticism. But I didn’t let that stop me. On the contrary, I knew in my gut it would work, and I took it as a challenge to prove the naysayers wrong.

Ask yourself — if no one dares, who will do some of the crazy things that need to be tried?

When I came to the team with an idea about building river trash traps in Bali to stop plastic entering the ocean, and the initial reaction was that the idea was crazy, complicated and that we should let others do it. But sometimes you are the only one that can. In the end, we went to Bali and built a number of trash traps that are stopping large amounts of plastic in the rivers.

What is your favorite quote or personal philosophy that relates to the concept of resilience?

In an article, Branson once mentioned a quote that I find extremely relevant and memorable: “Just pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again.”

It’s super important to learn from mistakes. It’s obvious and natural to make mistakes, and it’s great to do them as long as we approach them as lessons, they are the most valuable growth guidance.

Interestingly, in the times of the Roman Empire, Publilius Syrus coined the proverb “a rolling stone gathers no moss”. Over the centuries, its meaning has substantially changed from the original intention because the words so strongly convey how those that remain active and undertake different projects and initiatives are less likely to face stagnation.

You need to be constantly moving, pushing boundaries, testing the limits of your comfort zone. That’s when growth will occur. From one mistake, a lesson and many opportunities emerge. With each failure you become stronger.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

I love the idea of helping people to raise consciousness. So many people are out of touch with their own selves. I’ve personally benefited from this and would love to help others do the same. I’m looking to support the many people who want to do this globally and be a part of making a global change towards achieving greater awareness and connection with the world.

To expand on my journey with this a little, I’ve grown a lot over time and tried to reflect and learn from this as much as possible. I learned to look inside myself and gain a much greater understanding of who I am.

Later, as I travelled, had adventures and went on journeys I found myself creating time and space for myself to think, reflect and make decisions about my future. I’ve enjoyed this process of learning and growing enormously.

I’d love to help more and more people to experience this. It’s hard to create the connection with yourself quickly. It takes time to nurture and develop. It’s not as easy as downloading a meditation app. But it’s an investment in yourself that’s worth making. I believe that humanity as a whole would benefit from this higher level of consciousness.

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Thank you for these great stories. We wish you only continued success!



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