Our borderless Start-Up (& Down) – Lessons learned so far

A company beyond borders

Sometimes I wonder, do we make it complicated? There must be a smarter and sometimes faster way to scale up from being a start-up and get our products in the hands of more children all around the world. On the other hand, the way we work is so very One Globe Kids, that we wouldn’t want it any other way. We built this company beyond borders, because that is how our lives are. On our website it says “It takes a Global Village“: our team speaks multiple languages and is spread out over the globe. Our official headquarters is in Madison WI, but the work is done on three different continents and in different time zones. When I start my day in NYC, (6hrs later than Anne), my mailbox is filled up and the top 20 would be mail from Anne (or her replies to my 20 email that she found earlier). Our Dropbox is our only “joint office space”. And we joke that “if it has a Dropbox folder, it is an official One Globe Kids department”.

Our work is where we are. (Which could be anywhere, anytime, really). We don’t work regular business hours and we often take on family and school projects as if we were no-career-parents. (Anne worked on the end of school year video ‘Happy from our school in Voorburg’ and I do most of my research on my phone while waiting for my daughter to finish dance class.)

Working and having users on different continents not only comes with different languages, timezones and multiple holiday/vacation schedules. It also comes with different paper sizes! My printer works with Letter size paper and Anne’s has A4. Even the sizes for business cards and postcards are different. Whenever we have our designs done though designs teams that work online (like the one we found in Argentina through Elance) we need to make sure to ask for the correct size. If Anne posts the project we get EU size; if I do, US size.

We also deal with multiple Apple Stores and in each one we need local reviews to get our app rated 5 stars. (We could write an entire post just about how to deal with the App store if your app comes out in multiple languages and is available all over the world! Maybe later.)

So many challenges that make our way of working both fun and sometime frustrating. Overall, let’s say we learned a lot.

Our work is where we are

Earlier this year, Anne and I met in Wisconsin to talk about how to take One Globe Kids to the next level: a play to learn experience for children all around the globe. We had had these conversations before: while meeting in the public library in Amsterdam, when working in Anne’s shared office called Nomadz in The Hague, during a quick coffee at Kaffee 1668  in New York and this time we worked in the city that officially holds our HQ. And therefore also our legal, tax and business network. We got a lot done from our best office so far: the dining room at Anne’s parent’s house. (BTW in any place we meet, we eat. A lot. Since it was my first time in WI, I tried all the local delicacies. Yum, cheese curds! )

This time, we also spoke a lot about what makes us us and how we define the culture of our company. We know that in case of start ups, the foundation is in the values and beliefs of it’s founder. Here’s a glimpse of the One Globe Kids culture ingredients now:

One Globe Kids Global start-up Culture

 

One Globe Kids start-up culture

OneGlobeKids - start-up Quote F

We both had been thinking about “how” we work and the philosophy behind it. This shapes our business and our goals and also the new employees that we will attract in the future. This is what we came up with: We are a “F” great company!

Foreign: Our mission is to make the foreign feel familiar, and it takes a global village to make our products

Fun: We happily enjoy adventures and explore openly and creatively

Familiar: our mission is to make the foreign feel familiar

Friendship: We treat people the way we like to be treated and encourage friendships that cross borders (of all kinds)

Family: We build a company while giving family and work a shared 1st place on our priority list

Food: No need to explain, we like to eat our way around the globe

Future: We connect our friends, network, knowledge and experience to make a difference in educating the leaders of the future

The places we will go

And this is just the beginning. We already worked on a airplane together and that might happen more often now that the business is growing. Last week we had 37 students of the Hogeschool of Utrecht presenting to us how they evaluated our User Exeperience. Anne was present in person, I was there via the iPad. We will meet on Skype later today to start talking what the new version of One Globe Kids should be like. It will pretty F!

Stay Globe Smart, Sanny Zuiderveld

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About sz

Beside being on the OGK Team, Sanny currently works freelance, partnering in Europe with creative strategy firm BeBright, as a moderator, researcher and writer to help individuals and organizations to prepare for what’s next.