BUILDING A STARTUP IS LIKE GOING ON AN EXPEDITION
Tomáš Drahorád is a bona fide adventurer. While working as a marketing specialist at Creative Dock's life insurance service Mutumutu, he makes use of his free time to travel to destinations which tend to trigger negative emotions in most of us. He doesn't do sightseeing, anyway. What he does is help people.
When building a startup like Mutumutu, do you sometimes make use of your NGO experience?
Definitely. The need to improvise is perfectly mirrored in building a startup. We never know what might come, and we always need to react immediately. Day to day, hour to hour. It's the same as with an expedition. Startup isn't a corporation, there are no long-term goals. We focus on the short term and try to get places no one has ever been to. It's an amazing setting to capitalize on the experiences from expeditions.
Do you see the operative part as an advantage or a disadvantage?
It's neither. It's a characteristic, something that is naturally a part of building startups. Anything could happen overnight, the whole thing could blow up. I believe that to be a good thing. In the corporate world, everything is quiet, steady and slow. Startups means constant movement.
Tell us more about your charity work.
More like ours, since there's a whole group that I am part of. In March last year, we went to Iraq on a charity expedition. When we got there, we had to decide on where to put our efforts, where to invest the money we brought. We had our eye on a school in Kurdistan which had been literally broken in half. We helped put it together, provided electricity. And when we got back home, we realized it would be nice to establish an organization to continue this kind of endeavor.
How did the whole group get together?
I've been travelling with the Czech-based Expedition Club for quite a while. The club's motto goes like this: “Dare to go places not everyone could handle”. That's how I met a lot of “lunatics” who like to backpack to unusual destinations. Silvestr Tkáč, who takes part in the Kola pro Afriku (Czech Bikes for Gambian Schools) project, for example. He can also speak Farsi, goes to Iran often, and helped prepare the charity expedition to Iraq as well. I'd been longing to visit Afghanistan, and Iraq seemed like a safer alternative. That was also where we met, our group of eight.
And the eight of you founded Humanity…
Yes. The name's H.M.N.T., which is short for Humanity, and the goal is to continue this kind of charity expeditions. Since it's a great model. You take someone who has no idea about the issues the locals face, straight to where they live, and you make that person familiar with all those issues. That way they can enjoy a “different” type of travel, no hotels, no resorts, they get to meet the locals and discover their culture, and what's more, they provide help. Everyone benefits.
How complicated is it to put together an expedition like this? Is it similar to building a startup team?
It's very complicated, since we're a bunch of opinionated people. Each of us imagines helping in a different way, in different places. In terms of that, the group doesn't bear comparison with the Mutumutu team, for instance. At Mutumutu, everyone always needs to be on the same page.
As for our expeditions: the younger members will typically want to save all the children, all the animals. Those of us with some experience in project management prefer to set up processes that will work in the long term, and that will bring in money. Our meetings tend to be difficult but we always come to some kind of consensus. Moreover, we are not opposed to trying various paths, which actually is similar to how we work at Creative Dock.
Why is traditional travelling not enough for you guys?
mI guess each of us has their own reasons. All of us want to help, though, and each of us aims to fulfill some of their dreams. Again, this is similar to working at Mutumutu. For me, personally, the most important part is the give-and-take. Instead of just “raiding” the country, taking a bunch of selfies at the famous spots, and using up the resources, there's actually something I bring in. And what's more, I get to have an inside look into the country and into people's lives. I was genuinely shocked with how welcoming everyone was in Iraq. I hadn't experienced anything like that before. It was one of the triggers that forced the idea to travel and help at the same time.
Do you buy travel insurance when travelling to the rather dangerous countries?
I do. I also always consider if we're going to the mountains, for instance, as the insurance often applies only up to a certain number of metres above sea level. The problem with Iraq was that although I was insured, no company would approve the insurance claim if something happened to me. That's because Czech Foreign Office does not recommend visiting Iraq, and, as a result, companies exclude it from their policies.
Would Mutumutu cover your insurance in this case?
Not yet, but we are working on the adjustments as hard as we can.