I was recently invited to speak at the nation's flagship chapter of 1 Million Cups, at the Kaufmann Foundation's beautiful main campus in Kansas City, MO. Click to watch the video below (starts at the 8:00 mark):
1 Million Cups happens to be one of my favorite weekly activities. With over 100 chapter across the country, 1 Million Cups is a free national event designed to educate, engage, and connect entrepreneurs. Developed by the Kauffman Foundation, the original founders wondered what beautiful things could transpire if a million people met once a week for a cup of coffee.
Each week, an entrepreneur speaks for 6 minutes about their business concept (not a sales pitch) followed by a 20-minute Q&A.
While the spotlight is usually pretty intimidating to us introverts, I've found that I get so passionate to share my vision and encourage others to travel that I tend to get much less nervous on-stage (I also credit my professors from business school for drilling presentation skills into us in college!).
I'll be sharing more about a few exciting opportunities that came directly from the presentation in Kansas City, but for now, enjoy the show.
[1 MILLION CUPS KANSAS CITY: INTROVERTRAVELS VIDEO TRANSCRIPT]
Have you ever had a moment where you realize that you're supposed to do something more with your life?
There I was on a hike in the high desert of southern Utah, surrounded by nothing and everything all at the same time. And it was that lack of stimuli that allowed my overactive, introverted brain to realize that I needed a life that was full of travel, nature, and a little bit of adventure.
I didn't realize it at the time, but it was then that the seed of IntroverTravels was planted. I'd like to point out that that top photo was taken at that very “ah ha!” moment in Utah two years ago and the bottom photo was taken two months ago in the Atacama Desert of southern Peru. And it struck me that I was actually making these dreams a reality.
Hi, I'm Jacob Marek and I'm the Founder and Chief Explorer at IntroverTravels. Two years ago, I left a career in finance to pursue that dream of travel.
Last year I sold all of my belongings, left the big city of Miami, and moved back to my hometown of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, which allows me to live and travel abroad six months out of the year as an “Entreprenomad.”
In this video, I'm going to share with you my big idea at IntroverTravels: where I've been, where I am, and where I'm headed.
At IntroverTravels, I design life-changing travel experiences for curious introverts. I do so with a two-to-one travel planning ratio, with two parts rest and re-charge time to one part mind-blowing, life-changing experience.
So you can feel comfortable reading a book on the lanai or doing yoga in your underwear if that's what you want to do. But once or twice a day, I want to give you an awe-inspiring experience that will change the way you see the world.
I have expert on-site guides who create unique experiences that you won't get through any guidebook or online booking engine.
I have professional photographers on the sidelines taking photos of and for you, and providing you with several Instagram-worthy shots each day.
We explore off-the-beaten-path locations that emphasize nature, culture, and history. So imagine yourself on a thrilling African safari, watching the Circle of Life unfold in front of your very eyes. Or wondering what the hell happened on Easter Island (although, spoiler alert: nobody actually knows for sure). But suffice it to say, these are definitely not your typical beach vacations.
No, I plan experiences for nature nerds, science geeks, bookworms, and any other introvert who's simply curious about the world in which we live.
And counter-intuitively, we're not all solo travelers as introverts. These travel experiences are fantastic for small groups. They’re great for local hiking and nature clubs, for photography groups, and even small groups of families and like-minded friends.
And in the future I do plan on offering some set-date departures as well, where people can travel solo, but not alone.
So as I plan my business out, as I mentioned, I spend six months a year in my hometown of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, which allows me to travel and live abroad as I build my portfolio around the world the rest of the year. As I build my signature portfolio, I’m able to experience life from a local perspective, and as an introvert I prefer to connect deeply and authentically with my local partners, suppliers, and expert guides.
And all the while, I'm documenting the experience in order to share it with my fellow introverts and hopefully instill a sense of wanderlust in their own lives to create a Bucket List-type trip for themselves, even if it's only for a week or two at a time on their PTO.
The crux of my business is all based on content marketing. I do a lot of blogging and “vlogging” (a video blog), and on social media I'm on Facebook and Instagram. As these social platforms’ algorithms reward live video, which is well outside the comfort zone for most introverts, I push myself to create consistent live videos, as well as higher-quality edited short videos, like this one.
I have a small, engaged group on Facebook where we share Bucket List ideas, travel photography, future travel plans, and it's also a place where I have open office hours where group members can approach me as their personal travel advisor and ask travel-related questions throughout the week.
All of my blogs, vlogs, social media, and website tie into my Facebook Ads strategy as well, so I create Facebook ads from that content, and once you've signed up via an ad, then you'll be entered into a sales funnel where you'll receive a short series of welcome emails introducing me, the company, and inviting you to engage more authentically and directly with me as well.
And of course I have a weekly newsletter, which is non-promotional and non-spammy, but simply some interesting itineraries that I may be working on that week, or an inspirational playlist or podcast that I’m listening to.
In the future, I also plan on having a small in-house production team, where I can invest in higher-quality film and photography gear and equipment, and create visual content on the fly.
I also plan to eventually establish my own educational foundation, to sort of give back to the communities in which I lived as an Entreprenomad, as a way to say “thank you” for helping me to build my business.
But for the time being, all of my clients currently receive a gift credit to kiva.org, which is a charitable micro-lending site that believes that entrepreneurship is the surest way to alleviate global poverty. And for now, I think that's pretty cool.
I’m Jacob Marek from IntroverTravels, and I thank you for your consideration and vote, and for letting me share my small business with a BIG idea.