Greasing the wheels for Berlin's expats
Published on: 08 Dec 2014 11:18 CET
Club GLOBALS aims to make international life easier for the growing number of professional expatriates by creating online and offline connections. Expats can easily meet other expats, global minds and English speaking local service providers.
How did you come up with this business idea?
As an expat from Argentina, I have lived in Berlin for seven years and faced so many challenges with regard to finding apartments, opening bank accounts, deciding the right insurance and other mandatory formalities that any newcomer from abroad has to complete.
Also, I was ambassador of the world's largest expat community with 10,000 expats in Berlin and co-founder of two international Rotary clubs. I developed a good network and over time, so many professional expats started asking me to help them face the same challenges I had had.
It's one thing to help a few folks but it was challenging to be able to help everyone while having a full-time job and a busy schedule. But I really wanted to. That's when I decided to leave corporate life and devote my full working day in helping fellow expats and connecting people. That's how my passion took the shape of Club GLOBALS.
It is now an important point of contact for expats as it helps them find the right English-speaking service providers who we call 'Solutioners'. These user-recommended 'Solutioners' can enjoy online and offline spaces to introduce themselves and their solutions to the community.
What were the initial challenges? How did you overcome them?
When you come up with a new business idea, you need a good team as well. I could do the business part well but I needed a partner who could build the technical backbone of this company.
Then funding was also a challenge. We applied for credit and subsidies provided to startups by the state but were asked a lot of questions. It was a cumbersome process.
So we went for the angel investors. But then also, we had to change and iterate our product several times before giving it the final shape of a 'community marketplace'.
How has the journey been so far?
It has been a roller coaster ride but our global vision - to make life easier for expats – becomes more successful with each new milestone achieved.
While you may be always full of ideas about making the world a better place, you also need to focus to make things happen. That’s why I started wearing frames (without glasses) to focus on milestones.
When we had to get our platform ready, I wore a black frame. Then to find our first customer, I wore a white frame. To get our first investor, a red one. And now, to see a six-digit number, I wear an orange frame.
How has becoming an entrepreneur changed you, personally?
I started wearing frames, which looks crazy but makes people support me and remember my story.
When you work in a corporate, you sleep in hotels and live a good life. However, it all changes when you become an entrepreneur. Resources are limited and you may even have to sleep at a friend's place instead of a hotel room while visiting a new city.
But you always need to have a purpose, keep the big picture in mind and think of the team so as to lead them by example.
Any other personal reflections or message to budding entrepreneurs?
I had thought of starting up a business on the side, several times. It was only after I decided to devote my whole time and energy into this idea that things started happening.
Don't give up and maintain your focus. Wear a coloured frame to focus on your next milestone.
Sparsh Sharma holds a Master's in business administration and a Bachelor's in electrical engineering. After working in top Indian media companies he decided to come to Denmark in the fall of 2012 to study at Aarhus University and later worked at Lego. A Danish green card holder, he is currently looking for marketing or consulting opportunities globally, while working as a freelance journalist for The Local and blogging about his experiences in Denmark. You can follow him on Twitter at @sparsh_s.