When I started this business ten years ago I had just 2500 euro (in Liras) left in my pocket.
I had left my job and spent one year traveling in Australia and Asia, so I was close to broke.
I was supposed to go back to work.
But I desperately wanted to keep travelling and I had an idea: online apartments reservations.
So i drove from Venice to Prague’s railway station, where I made a few agreements with apartments owners, built a site in geocities (!) and I got my first reservation a few days later.
It was a glorious moment: money online. Wow.
So I started this, and the litte profit I made (after living and travelling expenses) was always reinvested.
I never asked money anyone.
No funders, Angels, VCs. Just me.
But when, a couple of years ago, I had the new idea for Adormo I knew I was going to need some capital.
It was a big project, too big for me alone.
So. I got some money from a friend who wanted to be part of the business, but it run out fast and I was stuck: the 2008 crisis had started and money was coming in very, very slowly.
“Great”, I though, “I have to stop developing now”.
That’s when I had the idea: sell the product to my future customers.
I needed Adormo to manage my several existing apartment reservation websites and create new ones to conquer the world.
It struck me that if was conceived for anybody being able to use it, then why not ask them to join and help?
Before I go ahead, you need some background, as this story is half about business and half about travelers.
I have a ten years old travel blog, Tripluca.com, and in Italy I am known as “the guy who lives travelling”.
If you wonder why in ten years I did not make money enough to develop Adormo, the answer is in that blog: I never cared about the money, as long as it was enough to keep me on the road.
Some may think this shows little business focus and that if I am not a millionaire by now I should quit (I’m 39).
But I consider my business extremely successful because its raison d’être was to let me travel.
Not to buy a nice car or a house.
50 countries and ten years on the road later I can say: this business let me live an an incredibly full life.
I owned the business, it did not own me.
It’s amazing what you can do when money comes in every month somewhere from the internet and all you need is to be online at least once a day : life becomes full of endless possibilities.
So, I posted the idea in my travel blog and forum.
It was a long article but in short it said:
“Hey guys. I have been working online for 10 years. People keep asking me how I do it and all I can say is that if you work hard ,you can do it too. But very few actually make it.
Now I have a new project which will allow you to work online as I do, without having to worry about the software, the idea, the business model etc.it’s all taken care of.
Also, I will create a restricted community (off and online) and teach you all you need to know.
But I need money now, about 20.000 Euro, and if you pay 1000 euro now, you can join me.
If things don’t go as you expect, I’ll give you the money back (starting from 18 months later so I have time to make it).”
The reaction was overwhelming.
I guess this was the first time somebody offered a way out and not just a direction.
You know, every guru tells you the answer is within yourself, but nobody actually tells you exactly where inside yourself, how to read it and what to make of it.
I offered a full package to the moon.
Just pay the ticket, get some training, follow my lead and if you are lucky and determined you’ll be free.
If that sounds like a scam..well it did and I think my blog saved me.
I had built trust in the years and now I put it to test.
Mind, the project was already partially developed but I had nothing nice to show.
There was no web design, so I decided not to show anything at all.
So, these guys trusted my words, paid the ticket and jumped in.
I collected in total 25.000 Euros.
There’s much more to say and I will write more articles about it, but you know the nicest surprise after all this?
Well, that Adormo is not just me, it’s us.
We are a real online business community with a shared dream.
It may sound idealistic, I know, but it’s not.
I couldn’t love this the way I do if it was just about financial security.
Furthermore, I had done so much alone, that I kind of missed being part of something.