Good weather, ocean breeze and the job that you always wanted to do — what can be better than this?
Karolina Klunduk, a participant of Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs, has always dreamed of becoming an entrepreneur. When she recently started working in her family’s business, she faced some challenges related to the operation of irrigation businesses. Due to this, a young entrepreneur understood that Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs program might fulfill the gaps in her knowledge baggage.
In Tenerife, this irrigation industry is old, with a lot of experience and things to know. Therefore, we are very happy that Karolina agreed to share her insights and experience with us!
— Karolina, how did you decide to participate in Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs?
— I have recently started working in my family business which brought me interesting yet very challenging projects. As soon as I joined the team, I was involved into different strategic decisions and business planning. Even though I’ve gained some business and organizational experience in AIESEC, I understood that I lack practical knowledge, how other irrigation businesses are operating. Thus, in order to contribute to family business qualitatively, I started to search for mentorship opportunities abroad and ended up with Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs.
— What did you expect from this project at the very beginning? What was the things you were most interested in?
— I expected to find a business which would be in the same industry as ours but with a very strong e-commerce side. I was surprised later to learn that even in countries such as Spain there is lack of professional irrigation online shops.
— Have you always dreamed about becoming an entrepreneur?
— I have never dreamt about becoming an entrepreneur, I just knew I would be one. 😊
— Was it hard to find a mentor?
— In my case it was pretty difficult, not because I haven’t received any offers, but because I have had pretty clear idea of what I am searching for.
Until I found my mentor, I had refused three offers which in other cases would have been very interesting. I found my mentor through IO organization in HE country, but before that I also tried searching in database and contacting business via LinkedIn.
— Tell us a little bit about your business. How did you come up with this business idea?
— As I mentioned before, I belong to family business as a future CEO to be. My dad came up with this business idea more than 20 years ago, when noticed a lack of professional sprinklers supply. At that time, irrigation was a luxury product in Lithuania, few people knew about it. He made his first steps by installing an irrigation system in our yard and some 20 years later we can proudly say that our business is the leading professional irrigation company in Lithuania. However, the Lithuanian market is very small yet competitive at the same time, which is why we are always looking for ways to learn more and it is one of the reasons that motivated me to join Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs program.
— How has your business idea progressed since the time you started working in Tenerife?
— While working with my mentor I have collected many interesting ideas I had never given a thought before. Our business will soon launch a new
e-commerce shop, which I was working on during my stay in Tenerife.
I also got inspired by my mentor Gabriel and we have created several new products which will be launched next season.
— Could you describe your ordinary day? What tasks you had to do?
— It is very difficult to describe, since my mentor tried to involve me into many different activities. I joined their company to help with e-commerce projects so we would usually meet, discuss and work on the website, on branding and marketing. I was basically spending my days in front of the computer. However, I got to know the Spanish irrigation industry better and learnt about key players, competition and new brands.
I visited the company’s warehouse and my mentor explained to me details about all the systems they use there as well as their future plans.
— What is the most important lesson you have learned so far?
— Entrepreneurship is not about waiting for the right time, there is no right time. If you want to start something – start doing it right now.
— In several words, how could you describe the culture in Tenerife? And the working culture, does it differ?
— Working culture in Tenerife is the funniest thing which I keep telling my friends in Lithuania. At first, I was surprised but later I started enjoying it. Island life is pretty relaxed and slow —and even though they might look very busy sometimes, things here are happening at a slower pace than I was used to in Lithuania. Coffee breaks here are essential, people do not imagine their day without going for a cup of coffee in a café nearby their office.
Everyday they would go to a café and spend 15–20 minutes talking and enjoying their coffee. In Lithuania my working culture is pretty different, in spring and summer I usually start my day at the office at 8 AM and finish around 7 PM. The working environment in Lithuania is pretty intense so the first thing I had to learn in Tenerife was to slow down.
— How did you like living in Tenerife?
— I loved living in Tenerife! I rented an apartment in Santa Cruz which is the capital of Tenerife. Because it is in the north side of island, it is not so crowded with tourists. I enjoyed local vibes here! I had basics of Spanish so I had to remember it because the majority wouldn’t speak in English. Tenerife is a small island, so in 1- 2 hours you can get from one side to another. It offers lots of different activities for nature lovers, which is way I would spend most my week-ends hiking, swimming, surfing, diving and so on.
— Do you call this project a one in a lifetime opportunity? How do you think your business idea would have grown without this project?
— Definitely. As long as I was in Lithuania I was thinking about our business only in a Lithuanian context, but here, however, I saw many different opportunities. Such projects make you more open minded and can bring more creativity to your business.
— What new business-related connections did you find during your stay in Tenerife? Are you planning to collaborate in the future?
— I have found some new professional irrigation brands which I knew nothing about before. I do think we are going to collaborate in future.
— What was the funniest or craziest thing that happened to you during your stay?
— I think that craziest thing I decided to do in Tenerife is to get a PADI diving license because I never thought I’d be brave enough to actually do it.
During my last month, I spent my weekends diving and reached 18 meters depth. I saw turtles, fishes, octopuses and so on. If you want to dive you have to learn to breath slowly and calmly, and even though it may sound funny, I believe that this particular skill is also very important in business.
Usually when I am stressed I tend to take decisions harshly and they happen to not always be the best. I know now that sometimes I must stop, breathe slowly and really think it through.
by Gintare Jasiunskaite, European Social Entrepreneurship and Innovative Studies Institute