Today we’re excited to showcase one of the most innovative and inspiring start-ups featured on our blog; The GO Project . Co-founded by a tenacious young man by the name of Kevin Miller, The GO Project is a trendsetter among businesses because of the entrepreneurial spirit this company evokes on a global scale. Implemented by eight “20-somethings”, The GO Project staff is truly an inspiration for future entrepreneurs such as ourselves. Check out our Q&A with Kevin Miller below! For more information follow & “Like” The GO Project on Facebook.
So Kevin, tell us a little about yourself. Where did you attend school and in what field did you receive your degree?
I love people and believe we all have a superhero itching to be let out.
If you like titles, these descriptions loosely fit: entrepreneur, aspiring teacher, traveler.
I’m addicted to good stories, space, and scrambled eggs; not necessarily in that order.
Everything I own fits in my backpack. I’ve never owned a car. And if I buy a round of drinks for friends, I can’t help but think, “that was a one way ticket to ____!”
I was lucky to learn with some really inspiring people at NC State where I studied International Studies. We all have a limited amount of time on Earth. I intend to spend mine thoroughly by having fun and fighting for people who need someone to fight for them.
So how did the idea of “The GO Project” come about? Was it solely an idea you created or was it a culmination of you and others?
We all have a “dream job” that we’d love to get after college – maybe that perfect internship in NY, the non-profit that plays sonatas on your soul, or the business you always wanted to start. They may not be feasible right out the gate, but we’d sure as hell kick ourselves if we didn’t try.
My post-college-life-idealized-dream was to travel the world with no plan on where to go or when to come home. Travel is when I’ve learned the most about how the world works and felt the most alive. Also it taught me that before settling down, taking advantage of the untainted freedom of no wife, house, or dog seemed like a good idea. I’d been saving for over two years when I graduated.
Then I met a few other kindred spirits at a conference for Social Innovation called StartingBloc in NY City. They set me down this crazy path, which has most definitely been harder than traveling alone and without a doubt exactly where I needed to be.
Briefly explain the initial start-up process of The GO Project.
At the end of the conference I mentioned above, people started to write things up on a massive chalkboard wall that they were committing to do. My friend Max, unbeknownst to me, wrote up: “I will travel the world with Kevin Miller”
He started talking to a few people about the trip. Low and behold, when we’d all returned to our respective pieces of the globe, 15 people jumped on a google hangout the next week to talk about it (think Skype, just with more google). Two weeks later, 8 [people] remained, and over the next 8 months we planned and schemed. Slowly but surely, we created what was to become the GO Project over a weekly two hour chat. What started out as a simple desire to see the world, evolved into three 3-month stints with entrepreneurs in three different continents.
In January we all quit our jobs and moved to Santiago, Chile to work with their government on crowd funding. Next we hopped over to Istanbul, Turkey to work with the accelerator Startup Bootcamp. And finally, we’re now in Yangon, Myanmar helping people start businesses in what people are calling the “Internet’s last frontier”. Over the next 5 years, the 51 million people of Myanmar will go from no internet to smartphones. Imagine that.
People keep asking how we’ve done this. I’d say a lot happened because we were willing to put our necks out and say yes when opportunities popped up. For example, Chile happened out of pure luck and hustle. We were originally talking with a few friends in other places until a partnership with Chile literally fell in our lap. You never know where you’ll end up.
What is the mission of The GO Project?
Our mission is to democratize entrepreneurial potential around the world. To help people have the knowledge and connections to start border-spanning businesses that make the world better.
How would you sum up your experience thus far, traveling the world, and being an entrepreneur?
Fear holds everyone back if they let it. Trust the process, we only control maybe 50% of the game. Trust.
What makes your company and staff different from similar businesses (if any)?
Based on all the feedback we’ve gotten from people who want to do GO, we were one of the first ones to take a leap and actually create a global experience like this. Our team is willing to take leaps.
On another note, we worked as a mini-democracy for the year, which was a hell of an admirable experiment, but it isn’t conducive for moving as fast as a company needs to. In my opinion, good organizations need benevolent dictators (props to my roomie in college for this one).
Do you plan on expanding your company and if so how?
Yes, we’re currently exploring what’s our best way forward. There’s loads of opportunity, we just need to choose a direction.
What has been your favorite experience and why?
Terrrrible question!! There are too many good ones and just as many bad.
I spent a week on the Chilean desert gazing into the cosmos. That was pretty mind boggling.
Haha yeah you’re right, my bad! Any words of wisdom for future entrepreneurs/aspirants who want to follow a path similar to The GO Project?
Fear holds most people back, just do it.
Trust the process, you won’t always succeed.
Ask for help from mentors who have survived the battlefield you’re walking into. It’s stupid to make the same mistakes that friends have made before. Much better to invest in new ones.
Figure out what you need to be grounded and set solid boundaries around that – for me it’s working out every day, playing a bit of music now and then, and laughing with someone when sh*t hits the fan. Starting anything is too hard to do without your feet solidly planted underneath you.