Make an adventure out of an business idea — Learnings from a bus Part I

In April we started an adventure to transform a double decker bus into a mobile event- and community space for workshops, meetups and retreats. In 2020 we start a tour through Europe on the bus to inspire people to challenge the status quo and to do what they love.

Let me take the time to reflect on what happened and share the main insights, hoping you can take something for your own business, project or idea.

In February, I described the social innovation experiment “Curious Stranger Adventures”. The question it all began with was:

What would happen if 20 strangers join an experiment: explore the potential of stranger teams and explore a purpose-driven idea together?

Two months later the idea turned into a public project or better to say into a social impact adventure. Declaring this project as an adventure gives us the flexibility to merge personal aspirations (like self-development, travelling, networking) with those of running a sustainable business (build and leading a team, generating income).

The Mosaic Bus will be a lab where we experiment with new organizational concepts, leadership and digital collaboration. We constantly evaluate the progress and outcomes and adapt our business strategy accordingly. Our concept integrates best practises and modules from agile/ lean management, prototyping and catalytic leadership. These values lead us on our adventure:

  • There is no definite end and we don’t exactly know where we will end up.
  • We embrace changes and integrate new opportunities.
  • We want to create memories for ourselves and others.
  • Try — Error — Learn — Improve

The spark for the project was a sudden feeling of discomfort during a train ride. The urge to do dare something which I yet wasn’t sure what is was. Transforming an idea is a indefinite process of defining, reflecting and improving (sometimes on a weekly basis).

Imagine the project idea as a walnut which hides in its green shell. It ripens until you can peel it and open the nutshell. You need effort and perseverance, until you can enjoy the fruit. If something is worth the wait you will learn to enjoy the process rather then the result.

So far I have enjoyed every minute talking to people about it. Sometimes I became uncertain, blurry or frustrated about the whole endeavour. With every conversation the idea improved and I myself got better in explaining it to take more people with me on this adventure.

An idea never stops evolving, therefore you balance a clear vision and the openness for change and external opinions. Listen to feedback and allow the project to drift towards what your target group wants and you feel comfortable with.

Be aware of how you feel and how people react to your idea — combined with strategic thinking this shows you when it is time to launch and go public. People will tell you that you’re ready or will point out major flaws. Make it part of your business model to shift (a post about prototyping business models follows). When you feel comfortable talking about the idea and proud to approach potential partners. members and clients — this is when you should have the courage to launch.

A business model doesn’t need to be perfect. Get it to the point where it creates value for your target group and supporters and show them that you are improving with every step you take.

We’re not made for solo-adventures. Even at remote places or solo-travel you will encounter people who create your best memories or strangers who point you into a new direction.

During the initial phase of the project I’ve learnt that partnerships emerged naturally from the relationships with people. Every sustainable relationship needs synergies and a mutual benefit, finding a balance of giving and taking respectively. Building partnerships for us is based on these principles:

  • We talk about personalities and expectations first.
  • We share ideas which are important for the other party and use it to create new opportunities (which do not always need to be part of the project scope)
  • We agree to maintain flexibility towards the definition of our partnership and how it evolves.
  • We want to learn from this partnership and provide resources to improve

When you start sharing your idea with the world, you will experience a wide range of reactions: love for the project, scepticism and disbelieve.

The more sceptics you hear, the more you should be encouraged to follow through, as this proves you hit a nerve. Start discussions, make people feel comfortable talking about their fears and reasons why this is a silly idea and transform this knowledge into a catalyzer for your project. Discomfort is a great source of unidentified potential and unsolved problems. Take on this challenge and question the status quo to find new solutions and make change your driver for your business model.

If you enjoyed the contents and got a bit curious about what that whole bus thing is all about learn more, follow us and please get in touch :)

Creative Technologist at Taikonauten in Berlin. Passionate about preparing children for the digital world while playing outside.