PANDORAHUB is a rural revival movement addressed to startups, digital nomads, careers shifters and young families. Something that started as a personal way to build a tailor-made lifestyle, is now bound to become a more general movement.
At PANDORAHUB, we want to democratize the good life.
We find it is easier and more affordable to live well, eat healthier and stay more conscious when you are surrounded by nature. It doesn’t necessary mean that we all need to resettle in a village (I myself wouldn’t move forever anywhere). For some people, like me, it is more than enough by adding a bit more rural life in our everyday.
My dream would be hacking this social movement to increase the quality of life for everyone. Other twin initiatives such as Tribewanted, Escape the City, Happy Startup, Caravanserai, Coworkation or Copass happen to be on a similar path.
Where did the idea come from?
PANDORAHUB as a tailor-made lifestyle started out by simply thinking of my own version of success in life.
- Doing what I love doing (contributing for good things to happen, which means being involved in impactful projects)
- Surrounding myself with people that inspires and humbles me (those who I love and purpose-driven proactive individuals)
- And being where I want to be (putting more rural life in my life).
The rural call
The idea of the abandoned village had always attracted me. Also for this natural sensitiveness for the past, for other ages, middle ages, castles, ruins and stones that becomes stronger every day. I don’t know why but when I arrive in the countryside and specially in a stone made village, I literally feel at home.
I definitely have a rural side since I was a child. I grow up uptown in Guinardó where is more like living in a village than in Barcelona. I think growing up near nature was a first seed for this project. Every day I discover people in unexpected environments and places, doing quite sophisticated things like reinventing an industry o managing change in big corps, who also have the rural call. Maybe because all have great memories about unforgettable holidays and weekends in our parents villages or “Torrres”. Growing in permanent or periodical contact with nature makes a huge difference for a child Nature is a great teacher.
Every month I find impact-driven entrepreneurs who share an amazing rural history in their childhood. Guillem Orpinell for instance, founder at Mirmiki (and participant in our first camp for startups), whose parents turned an abandoned village (Montsonís) into an fully booked rural tourism accommodation offering leisure activities.
Recovering my freedom
I started with the social projects at the age of 25 when I founded and started to run a social innovation entrepreneurship project named Djs Against Hunger. It was charitable electronic music festival and an artistic association offering free yearly for free courses on djing, music production, video etc. to youngsters in risk. I was a professional dj on the side by then and I somehow managed to turn my passion into something meaningful, both for me and for others.
I firstly decided to move from the social innovation industry to the IT industry in order to start an acceleration process. I wanted to master digital channels. Since the very beginning, the plan was coming back to the social industry after 3-4 years and using all what I had learned for good. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, mostly because I had already tried honey with Djs Against Hunger.
I had great times and learn a lot while working for big corps. At the beginning, it was really exciting taking part of something really big. In my pass through the digital industry, I also get unexpected and precious tools such as human centred methodologies. Far more useful of my initial idea of what digital channels could offer for me to mobilizing people. However, the lack of freedom for deciding where to apply my skills was excruciating. The hardest part for getting rid of this type of living was breaking free from my own stoppers and the tricky illusion of an economical security that provides you a “serious” job.
Recovering my freedom became my main motivation at the end, even though having received a counter offer from my ex-boss. My exit was really friendly and who knows, we might turn his proposal into a PANDORAHUB camp in Mexico sometime. The fact is that we work 50%-60% of the day, 80% of the week, and 90% of the year. We work most of the time of our lives (80.000 hours). So when you do something that is not 100% coherent with what you are inside, you burn out. Often.
In the past years before PANDORAHUB, I often felt like a hamster in the wheel, craving for a change but stacked by the stupid idea of “where to start from”. I then applied a typical trick for moving forward whenever you are in a grey moment of zero inspiration: I started coming out from my comfort zone and taking part in stuff I would have never imagine before. For instance, going to a Escape the City weekend in Umbria. I didn’t know exactly what I would find there but now I understand that all the small changes that started there, created a huge snow ball.
Bali and Nepal, shaping PANDORAHUB
So 3 months after Umbria, I finally I quitted my job and with a business idea in hand, I decided to start the research phase of the project with a trip. This is how I ended up in Bali and took part of a workation program for entrepreneurs and digital nomads. In Tribewanted Bali we were a group of 25 people starting to build our dream lives or freelancing in our projects from paradise.
Not by casualty, our work place was one of the hotspots in Asia for digital nomads and location independent professionals: the Ubud co-working space of Hubud. The plan was getting immersed in the digital nomad community, understanding their needs, motivations, stoppers and key factors for deciding where to work from and where to go next.
After 1 month in Bali, I extended my trip 1 more month. I changed my flight but I finally lost it because I reached a UX service exchange (OMG I love service exchanges) that let me to another great adventure. A Nepal permaculture and trekking adventure to the Annapurna. My goal for the trip was getting to know permaculture in order to apply it in villages when back in Spain
But I also ended becoming a (digital) nomad, I can tell!
What is PANDORAHUB?
It is becoming a network of people, initiatives and places. A growing community of startups, volunteers, facilitators, mentors, professionals, entrepreneurs and individuals willing to put more rural life in routines. We name ourselves are the Rural shakers. You can find startups, change makers, legal hackers, management experts, digital nomads, growth hackers, service designers, human centred designers, Lean Startupers and other weirdos who you would have never said at first sight that they share the rural call. We organize monthly Meetups and workshops on relevant topics about startups and digital nomads.
We look forward to build a community of conscious makers roaming around a network of villages spread out through our territory. Talented, curious, resilient and powerful individuals both human and professionally. We want to empower rich, inclusive, vibrant, healthy, inter-generational and diverse rural communities.
3 key facts
1. We have 3.6000 abandoned villages and other 7.600 looking for inhabitants
We have a plethora of locations. 3.600 abandoned villages in Spain + 7.600 fighting depopulation and desperately trying to get new inhabitants. And other hundred of thousands of villages in the EU. Ancient communities where homes used to gather around a castle or a church in the Middle Ages. Start counting…
Remote and not so remote places holding a stunning and picturesque appearance, proudly owning great natural and cultural assets in silence. Many of them are strategically located near rivers or natural water sources. 3/4 of them are being sold as a whole to private international owners. PANDORAHUB is willing to pursue a social an economic alternative to this private expropriation of our patrimony.
In addition, local governments often lack the reach, time and specialisation for retaining and attracting strategic individuals to their villages. The ones who have a longer livelihood and an entrepreneurial-proactive mindset. The ones who won’t just create the demand for basic needs (such as food, education, healthcare, etc.), but also the seed for creating a powerful community. A local empowerment approach with an international reach is key for tackling the need of this local governments.
2. We are literally surfing the co-working wave:
As a coworker, what you find is much more than a shared office. A shared vibrant working environment where entrepreneurs and professionals mingle around, pursues far more value than the false security of working in a cubicle for a big corp. Apart from startups, freelancers, proactive profiles and makers, the co-working spaces and ecosystems are likely to be far more appealing than big corps for top professionals that doesn’t need a boss anymore in order to succeed. The same ones that paradoxically big corps are looking for. So talent war between co-working spaces / location independent work models and big corporations has begun.
This is why PANDORAHUB proposes a lifestyle that fusionates work and life, introducing balance between working in the city and co-working/co-living in a rural area. This explosive mixture is specially addressed to entrepreneurs and professionals looking for inspiration and accelerating their business ideas. PANDHORAHUB is eager to create this type of appropriate professional environments, as well as contents and activities addressed to encourage professional growth and peer-to-peer skills-sharing.
3. Workation is here to stay
“Workation” (work + vacation), is coming strong and 100% sedentary travel gives way to active tourism and digital nomadism. By combining the practice of travel for leisure and co-working in remote locations, you will get digital nomadism. Digital nomads are people who can work remotely and take the opportunity to do so from the places they love.
Gili Island, where the very first version of the PANDORAHUB website came out in just 2 hours. Stunning landscape in front of a 3.600m vulcano, a nutella crepe and 2 watermelon juices did their job.
We believe that our country, our culture, our cuisine, our authenticity … are a natural attraction for digital nomads and tourist in the broadest sense. Remote co-workers and conscious tourists are coming from around the world in search of a true immersion experience in our culture. PANDORAHUB is identifying authentic local rural communities and we are eager to open them to the world.
In the city it is a miracle finding somebody smiling in the morning commute. It can be really hard to feel emotionally connected to a urban work. Finding purpose in what we do and conciliating personal with professional life sounds nowadays more like a privileged of a few. Life costs less and is more worthy outside the city. We find natural environments much more appropriate for boosting innovation, career-shifting or business growth processes.
We at PANDORAHUB have proven that putting more rural life in your routine radically increases effectiveness, life quality and happiness. Now we want to spread this practice.
What do we do?
We revive rural areas by designing and organizing programs for startups and career shifters to help them become more self-sufficient. We choose stunning villages and vilas for our programs to take place, so that we start attracting people towards this places.
We won’t ask you to re-settle in a village to take part of our programs
We inspire startups and careers shifters to grow tackling work and mental processes in a different place and way. For those who can live and work from wherever, we invite them to escape for a few days in stunning countryside locations in Spain, where to get surrounded by nature while trying out a more healthy, sustainable and balanced lifestyle for a while. Our programs happen to have a clear payoff for the participants
“My business 1 month after I’ve opened the PANDORAHUB’s box”
by François Justet, co-founder at SlowMov
“Thanks to PANDORAHUB FUN! Startup, this month we have defined a very original proposal that successfully help us acquire a major customer! The program is a short term refundable investment and a useful way to infuse an innovative boost to your business (read more)”
As part of our mid-long term repopulation mission, we will also start rural resettlement campaigns in villages together with local governments in 2016.
People. Our main focus
Although we are not an NGO, we feel a bit like it. We like to put people first. Before business, money or spaces. People is clearly our main focus. With this in mind, we have designed and implemented two main programs for Startups and Career Shifters so far
PANDORAHUB programs for startups
We love startups. One of the tasks I carry on daily and I love the most is interviewing amazing entrepreneurs. Getting to know exciting startups projects every day keeps my levels of inspiration really high all week long. At the end, this is one of my key factors for success (surround myself by inspiring people) and this is constantly fulfilled thank to them. What else can I ask for :)?
I also think that this one-on-one interview gives me the opportunity to have a more human dialogue with them, to really understand their needs and pains, to walk on their shoes, to speak the same language. At the end, I´m an entrepreneur myself. As a result, I have spotted a great need in supportive approaches for startups (from the perspective of mentors, experts, accelerators, incubators, camps, etc.): the gap between the startup and its self-sustainability. This is what we try to provide in the shape of an experiential camp.
I like that the decision on who should we start supporting is based on human values instead of opportunity of costs. Since PANDORAHUB is not taking equity from startups, this happens naturally easy. Our will is our support not being necessary at some point, if possible, after the camp itself. Our support is deep empowerment as opposed to symptomatic pain relief. We are on the run for making startups more resilient.
We did our first pilot experience last summer. We created a tailor-made program for startups facing growth, change or a launch: PANDORAHUB FUN! Startup, our workation camp for startups.
How was the first pilot experience last summer?
For the first edition we gathered 7 startups and 8 mentors for 5 days in a village in the Ebro River (Riba-roja d’Ebre). The great surprise both for my and for the participants, was realizing all what you can get out from just 5 days concentrating in your business in a natural environment. Obviously, a reduced group of like minded people and the one-o-one high class mentorship also helps. The participant startups really got to point.
“The secret to going through such a bootcamp like this one is that you need to come in with a very good idea of what you want to hack. Being an entrepreneur, or someone working in a start-up, the mentors will give you the advantage to dissect your business, lay it out flat and come up with tons of ways to figure out what you want to do at present and for near the future.”
– Aya Sadder, Lead organizer for Dubai Startup Weekend and Biz Dev Manager at the Sustainability Platform and Impact Hub Dubai (participant in our first camp for startups last summer)
I’ve been mentoring the projects after the camp and I’ve seen surprising and quite diverse results. A business who has dramatically changed the way of designing commercial proposals and has became a winner in negotiations with partners. Another startup who was its first 1,5 years mainly responding to B2B opportunities, have just launched their very first B2C mainstream campaign, and 2 partners starting a complete business now attached to nature after the camp, after realizing their initial project wasn’t truly coherent with their life purpose.
Our startup mottos:
- Do what you love and what you are good at (both as an founder and as a team)
- Focus on people
- Find the market fit for your ideas first
- Build from your inner force
- Validate the MVP before the launch
- Monetize before looking for money
- Grow organically
- And overall, have fun with what yo do (or come back to your employee life)
What kind of startups do we give support to?
- Purpose-driven startups: founders move by a clear mission, cause, values.
- People centric: business that put people first and are eager to provide real value to teams, customers and communities where they operate.
- Environmental friendly startups: business that are conscious about their environmental impact and are willing to minimize it or to being more regenerative with it
Our startup empowerment approach: People Centred Business Grow
Our program for startups is founder centric because our way to tackle business grow or pre-launch processes is based on people.
First step the founder
Why is he/she doing this? Is it truly coherent with him/herself? Is the business based on passions, strengths and values? How can he/she realign the business core activity with it all in order to be more competitive and resilient?
We work on identifying the founder core values and culture and give them tools for infusing this non-tangible assets into what the do in a day to day basis. This is specially useful for operating startups in order to re-align the business core activity with the purpose and the current conditions (things that you have now)!
Our model is 10% theory and 90% practice.. All pure workshop and playful exercises. Mentors are facilitators instead of experts telling you what to do. Participants frame questions and get answers by themselves. We have a quite DiY approach. The participants put into practice direct application addressed to:
- Connecting products with real customer needs
- Turning customers into the first and best investors
- Monetising sooner
- Becoming better leaders
- Overcoming failure
- Growing without the need for external funding
- Getting traction sooner
- Validating the Value Proposition
- Minimising deployment and development risks
- Saving time and money in the near future
- Understanding the factors that contribute to the exponential grow
- Exploring alternatives to private funding
- Understanding how, when and why to launch a crowdfunding campaign
- Sizing people, milestones, resources and time for a go to market
How do we tackle self-sufficiency for startups?
We try to inspire self-sufficiency in a way that allows entrepreneurs to take decisions more quickly and to operate/grow without the need of external funding. Financial self-sufficiency in PANDORAHUB starts by guiding startups through the alternatives to the traditional private funding models. Alternatives such as crowdfunding, crowdequity, crowdleding, startup time banks, etc.
We are proud to say that we even take financial self-sufficiency a step further exploring ways for making startups viable without the need of funding. We have been taught – everywhere, college, school, resources management… our parents – to think in terms of need, on what we lack of. But there are methodologies to endure bootstrapping and actually grow from within. Pentagrowth is one of the key approaches that we are starting to use in our camps in order to get to the point to this so call financial self-sufficiency. In my opinion, one of the main contributions of Pentagrwoth is giving clear clues on how to build something using what you have or what is already out there, rather than dwelling on what you need (and costs money). I find this particularly encouraging for startups.
Our next startup program: PANDORAHUB FUN! Startup – Cathar Weekend
We have an upcoming startup acceleration weekend on January (8-10). This time we have chosen a very special location in the Catalan Pyrenees an abandoned village that is being restored: Solanell
The camp is composed of 2 workshops: “Build, Test & Rebuild Day” (Jan 8th-9th) tackling Lean Startup, prototyping, testing a pitching + the “Financial Self-Sufficiency & Growth Day” for putting into practice crowdfunding and other alternatives to private funding such as Pentagrowth. There is also a free daily meditation course and daily yoga classes + thee possibility to go skiing or snowboarding.
A regular 24h in the camp
- Optional Snowboarding & Skiing day
- Arriving to Solanell in the the afternoon
- Building a Teamtower by Alvaro Solache
- Easy Meditation by Cristiana de Efecto Yoga Málaga
- Founder Centric Pitching by Philip Bliss
- Organic dinner by La Petrella
- Sleeping in the shelter in the abandoned village of Solanell (Jan 8th-9th)
- Morning Jan 9th Yoga for startups
- Founder Centric + Lean Startup workshop (I), interspersing product centric, founder centric approaches and pitching techniques by Ian Collingwood and Philip Bliss
More details details about the schedule
We have gathered a bunch of purpose-driven, people centred and environmental friendly startups and a molotov cocktail of methods and mentors.
- Albert Cañigueral and Gabi Masferrer from OuiShare and Pentagrwoth
- Valenti Acconcia Crowdfunding consultant at Vanacco
- Eva Zahrawi Brand Manager Vodafone Netherlands
- Philip Bliss actor and pitch mentor at the Stockholm Executive Business School
Volunteer in Solanell a participate in the camp with discount
This is the room we will be using for the workshop. It is being conditioned and you have the opportunity to take parte on it (Photo by Gerard Justo) You will save € 50 in total if you contribute in basic safely tasks such as painting, wall scraping, cleaning and conditioning the spaces for the workshop. Tasks are for 2 days and 4 hours a day in the following turns:
From December 19th to 20th
From December 27th to 31s
Who is the PANDORAHUB FUN! Startup – Chatat Weekend for?
- Operating Startup (Launch): You are about to launch a new product, service or a new business model
- Operating Startup (Growth): You want to enter a new market segment, industry or country
- New Startup (pre-Launch): You have the first Minimum Viable Product and/or you are about to launch it
Get all the details at PANDORAHUB. Join us for a transformational weekend with a constellation of mentors. Start the year sustainably making your business grow!!
Drop me a line for any question to diana at pandorahub. co or email@example.com
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