I remember when I was a little kid I already wanted to work for myself, for something I believe in, something I enjoy and ideally something I will be able to make a good living out of — ok, not 100% true. At that age, making a good living and working for myself were the only things I was thinking about. I also remember the same kid watching documentaries from a young age about the red continent, the land down under on the other side of the world, the country that has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, the place that has amazing wildlife around the countryside and the sea, with all the creatures that “wanna kill you”, and cute animals like Quokka’s that are always smiling. I knew I would go there one day.
Some years later, after finishing my professional education as an industrial clerk and working in project management to finish off one of our projects, it was time for me to leave my home country and travel the country I knew I’d love, because it’s great for backpackers they said and I love backpacking — I mean I’ve already seen heaps of documentaries and there wasn’t anything negative about it, and if there would be they’d tell me. Yep, it was great. BUT no one told me that it’s f*ckin hard to find a job as a backpacker! Kind of false advertising I’d call it. That’s when I had an idea to help other travellers for the first time.
Coming home from Australia, I started more professional training as a salesman where I received certificates at the end of the program. But I didn’t really follow my idea I thought would be so great and helpful for others. After a while, I realized that I didn’t like my job very much and I didn’t care about what I was selling either. So, I decided to finish my written tests, go travelling again, and finish my spoken test when I returned back home. I didn’t want to waste another 3 months.
Back in Australia, I had a great time again, but there still was the same problem for travellers: to find a job easily.
After coming home I started freelancing and thinking out loud (talking) about my idea — to find a solution to help travellers and to match them with local employers, which turned out to be called jobspottr. Some liked my idea, some didn’t — fair enough.
I teamed up with two guys I’d already known for a while. Markus — who I’ve known for about 20 years as we used to be neighbours — and Kilian — who I’ve known for 6 years, we met when we worked for the same company — yep, the one I didn’t like.
After working on our project and doing freelance jobs for a while, I applied for Catalysr’s pre-accelerator last year in August and got accepted just two weeks before the program started. I mean, there was still some time left to quit everything back in Germany, get my visa, book my flight, get travel insurance, say goodbye to my family and closest friends and do some other stuff. Everything perfect and ready to go — if the nice guys from the Australian government didn’t refuse my business visa only 4 days before my flight.
That was bad news & I had quite a few drinks that day — so close to making my dream become true, working for myself, for something I enjoy, something I really believe in and in the country I loved.
I thought, well guys, I tried it the “official” way, I wanted to be serious, I did what you’d do if you wanted to build a business, but it didn’t work. You’re not crossing out my plans, I thought. So, I applied for a tourist visa AND an e-visitor visa which shouldn’t take too long from my previous experience 3.5 years earlier. It was a Thursday when I applied. My flight was on Monday at 11am.
Sunday night — still no visa… That’s bad, Pascal, I told myself. What are you gonna do? Take your flight to Abu Dhabi and bum around until your visa is granted? Nope, that’s a bad idea. I didn’t know what to do except stay positive, which was damn hard at that time.
I woke up at 3:00 am in the morning and due to the time difference, Australia’s trading hours already started and yes, even the guys from the Department of Home Affairs already started working because here they were — the grants of both of my visas!
Ready to start a new adventure I jumped on my flight, celebrated the win with heaps of drinks on the plane until they cut me off, and arrived in Sydney with 10 hrs of half decent sleep and was ready for Catalysr’s pre-accelerator. Even though I came just for 6 months (that’s the duration of the program) and I’d already booked my flight back to Germany, it was perfect. All I was dreaming of as a kid became true.
We made good progress during the program and around october Usman, the CEO and Co-Founder of Catalysr, already told me about a New Entrepreneur Visa for South Australia, which was about to be launched soon. I thought ok, that might be a good opportunity for us to keep up the work in our initial market close to our customers. When they launched the program I already had prepared all the documents and applied.
I wasn’t thinking much about the visa as I focused mainly on our project and I wanted to push forward with jobspottr. The official program of Catalysr ended on the 16th of March with a demo day, but not the contact with these amazing people I was fortune enough to meet and work with during the program who made these 6 months just an incredible experience. My flight back to Germany was booked for the 24th of March, there wasn’t much time left.
Then, just a normal Friday of work, there it was, the ticket which allows me to keep living my dream, the visa grant for the New Entrepreneur Visa which allows me to stay in the country I love for at least another 3 years and work on the project I’m passionate about.
It wasn’t always easy, but I never expected it to be easy anyway, and it won’t be easy in the future either. I just kept believing in what I’m doing and that I will get there. And I still believe in what I’m doing and love it. I ended up in Adelaide in a nice flat close to the beach and I will keep working on the last bit of my dream — make this project, make jobspottr happen and make a good living out of it — for my co-founders, future employees and myself.
If you have an idea, start thinking about it out loud and talk to people, better earlier than later. Validate it and don’t give up if you hear that some people don’t like it, or you have some obstacles in front of you. That’s fine, and you will have these hard times, but you can get over it. Keep believing, keep hustling and surround yourself with people you can learn from that help you on your journey.