Today, we’re talking to Roline and Suzanne, co-founders of The insPirates; a project which acts as an accelerator for social and environmental change by uniting those with a drive for adventure, social entrepreneurship and outdoor play in a stimulating setting.
The insPirates: concept, birth & growth
Roline and Suzanne launched The insPirates to unite people with a spirit of adventure and a drive for entrepreneurship in sustainable innovations. They see the combination of nature, inspiring experiences and adventurous game-changers as the accelerator for creativity, social entrepreneurship and positive change.
In an effort to encourage people to close their laptops and disconnect from the online world, Roline and Suzanne want to see others going into nature to ‘release their inner child, backflip from a boat, dance under the stars and just BE’.
They believe it’s this sense of adventure and activity that help our creative minds thrive; maximising our potential to create solutions for a challenging world that needs innovation and action now more than ever.
By devoting themselves to making the world more sustainable and fun, The insPirates have found a recipe to combine incentive travel, adventure and positive networking. They bring together people with big dreams and the eagerness to make our world a balanced place for all: ‘That’, they say, ‘is how you make magic happen.’
They’re kick-off event will begin with a fleet of sailing yachts between August 27 – September 3, to island hop, play, explore and foster ideas to inspire each other and act together to create positive change.
From left to right: Roline & Suzanne; in Nusa Penida, Indonesia February 2016; in Bali, February 2016; in Gili Air, Indonesia, February 2016.
‘We cannot afford to loose time on projects that don’t fully align with our mission’
In 2015, Roline and Suzanne attended a Kitesurf & Sail Flotilla; a fleet of sailing boats that united a multi-cultural group of people to experience the synergy that comes with being together in a confined living space. The flotilla was organised by Suzanne, and it was here that the pair witnessed the value and potency of bringing open-minded people together to challenge big and bold ideas, within an empowering group dynamic.
Although they’d known each other through a close mutual friend and had co-worked together in Tarifa, the pair were embroiled with other projects and were both super busy. They’d recognised that together they shared the same passion for adventure, the urge to do good and the enthusiasm to take the lead; and although some of these elements were there in the projects they were working on, they knew that ultimately none of them were ‘it’.
‘We just knew we had to work on something together. We realised we couldn’t afford to lose time on projects that don’t fully align with our mission to make this world a better and healthy place for all. So we paused, pulled the plug on everything that didn’t matter and immersed ourselves in a new world.’
Kite & Sail Flotilla, Ionian Sea, Greece. October, 2015.
The adventure-seeking duo met up in Indonesia and removed themselves as far as they could from traditional Western society. They played like children, hung from trees, submerged themselves in forests and hills, cracked coconuts and sailed; ‘we were basically doing the ‘unproductive’ but super rewarding things you love doing as a kid.’
Roline and Suzanne believe that we’ve stopped this kind of play; ‘we’ve become ‘adult’ and conformed to real life, and we keep ourselves busy rolling the ball that values and demands production and consumption.’ The insPirates want to inspire people to look beyond the laptop and beach coworking option; they want nomads and remote workers to question what they are doing, and whether it’s really important. ‘Forget the money and freedom we buy with our nomadic offices’, they say, ‘and ask, ‘is what I’m working on really going to make this world a better place?’
Over the last months the buzzing all-girl team has shaped The insPirates business model from Indonesia where they worked closely together; and then remotely from Spain, Turkey, Germany and Holland. But never – they say – without ‘a day of play. This is what keeps us energised and surging forward.’
Ionian Sea, Greece. October, 2015.
‘Transformative approaches aren’t about predicting the future; they’re about creating it’
It’s simple enough to have a bold idea; the hard part is driving your idea forward.
Both Roline and Suzanne fell in love with the energy they experienced from the sailing trip. It wasn’t just a connection with nature, it was fusion:
‘We saw what happens if you put two driven and adventurous monkeys on the same boat (read: us!). With an urge to maximise our potential on earth, we figured, why not multiply this and bring more of these monkeys to the coconut club? Connections on a yacht go deeper in one day than weeks on land and years online. We have the ingredients and the thirst. It’s time to blend and get the juice.’
Suzanne has years of (hitch)sailing and freedive experience which have shown her the tsunami of challenges our world is facing, and in particular, the ocean. ‘In the middle of the Atlantic’, she states, ‘I fished water samples that appeared to be clear but had 47 parcels of plastic. In the Andaman sea I’ve been zigzag sailing to avoid hundreds of trawling fishing boatsRoline and I have been dancing with manta rays in a plastic soup. I’ve stared at parades of plastic floating. I built sandcastles of plastic sand.’
And there’s more; ‘I’ve freedived looking for fish and couldn’t find any, in areas where they’re supposed to be in abundance. The ocean is unexplored so not many see the changes happening first hand and not much action is being taken. But we are all dependent on our ocean. The ocean is the heart of the planet. It produces most of the oxygen we breathe, it regulates our climate and is home to amazing wildlife and the biggest creatures on earth. It gives us food, jobs, life and joy. Without it we cannot survive. It gives us everything and we’re taking it out of balance as if we are the last generation on earth. We have the responsibility to give back and we have absolutely no time to lose.’
Inside the heart of The insPirates, Suzanne is the environmentalist and the one determined to turn the tide of direction the ocean is heading in; Roline is a leader in the social challenges of our time, and has experienced a multitude of these situations throughout her nomadic life around the world.
Suzanne, co-founder of The insPirates in the Atlantic Ocean. January, 2015.
With a background in digital business transformation, Roline was often asked, How can technology and innovation tackle the vast challenges in our fast-paced time? ‘But for me,’ she says, ‘transformative approaches aren’t about predicting the future; they’re about creating it.’
‘I don’t think technology is the Holy Grail for positive change, it sometimes isn’t at all, but I do think that it can be a valuable instrument to face social and environmental issues. I’m really inspired to hear and get involved with bold initiatives like mobile solutions in rural areas in southern Africa and innovative programs for children that lost a generation of parents due to HIV/Aids or war. These technological initiatives are just small steps in issues that mostly requires broader, more systematic interventions.’
‘Look at the food crisis, which is nowhere more present than in southern Africa. A large proportion of southern African households cannot reliably access nutritious food. It’s a fundamental aspect of their deepening poverty trap. I flirt with many places around the globe, but I am in love with southern Africa. It’s a fascinating, magical region, but it also faces heavy problems. For me it was this place, and all my experiences in it, that shaped my outlook and impacted many choices in my life. I strongly felt the urge to dare to make a difference.’
‘You can avoid these problems when travelling as an experienced nomad, but what if your technological, creative, innovative expertise can have a positive impact? It will; but only together, when we collaborate and unite. For Suzanne and I, I can see how experiencing wholeheartedly and working together has made us agents of positive change.’
Turquoise Coast, Turkey. July, 2016.
‘A single event can spark new insights, relationships, and capacities, it can make us more conscious as consumers and maybe as new leaders that dare to tackle the question: how are we going to work together to solve the problems we have created? The social and environmental challenges we face can be overwhelming: climate change, overpopulation, unsustainable consumerism, poverty. But they also bring a new era of opportunities. Thanks to increasing knowledge, (slow) growing awareness about these challenges, endless possibilities in modern technology, and a new ambitious generation aiming to do meaningful work, we have the resources to tackle the greatest challenges of our time.’
For most it may seem too big to tackle, too complex, too causal. But Suzanne and Roline know they are out there: ‘the bold, courageous, game-changing thinkers, and leaders with the ideas and drive to tackle our current social and environmental issues. We already see many individuals and organizations with great sustainable, cultural, and socially-engaged ideas, initiatives, and business models. We need those change-makers: to shape culture, to disrupt business, and to inspire and stimulate change. But we need to do this together and team up more. Occasionally but rarely you meet them: a like-minded troubadour with the same drive for adventure, entrepreneurship and change. We believe there is a need and desire to bring these beautiful souls together.’
Roline, co-founder of The insPirates in Vinkeveense plassen, Netherlands. August, 2015.
People who want to make these changes are all community people and The insPirates aims to get them together, in real-life situations, and away from their computers. ‘We cannot make these changes alone; neither can we live, laugh or love alone. The quality of business and life is determined by how and who you go through life and business with. So here we are, to facilitate, incentivise and accelerate these ideas with a playful dose of thrill and adventure! Because, and we’re proud to say: that’s how WE thrive.’
‘Row with the peddles you have’
One of the biggest challenges in developing The insPirates is combining the workload with other projects they still have ongoing. This takes planning, prioritising and sacrificing in other areas of their lives. ‘Sometimes we have to say no to things but we know it’s totally worth it; more beautiful and impactful things are going to come out of this.’
The majority of their business was developed through Facebook messenger, but since business has picked up they’ve integrated other tools to manage the project like Slack and Hootsuite. ‘We like to KISS: Keep it Simple Stupid. So we minimise the amount of apps and tools we use, and enjoy just working from an excel sheet. We know things can be optimised, but if you look at our current website setting up the base, the boats, the program and framework at the back end has been the priority. There is a saying we love in Dutch, ‘Row with the peddles you have.’ For now, the priority isn’t for a logo or a fancy website.’
Bodrum, Turkey. June, 2016.
‘Of course there are challenges; but compared to the larger challenges we’re facing in our planet, these pale in comparison. And we know that as long as the driving forces behind the scene, like our passions, values and vision, are aligned, we can tackle all there is to come. Together, we’re heading for the same summit.’
The 4-hour Workweek is not enough
Not only did they recognise the need, but Roline and Suzanne saw the desire in other nomads and lifestyle designers, to get more involved in meaningful business. As ground-breaking as it was a few years ago, practising the 4HWW (4-hour Workweek) and chilling on the beach the rest of the day is no longer enough. For them, ‘true satisfaction and reward comes from pursuing passion and purpose together for the benefit of the greater world’.
They know it isn’t necessarily easy to ‘get into this’ type of work. If you’ve been doing something totally different for years and have loose ends to tie up first, where do you start? Perhaps your nomadic journey has just begun and that’s already overwhelming in itself. Or maybe you’re a person with great ideas looking for the right people to make it happen with.
That’s where The insPirates comes in; you can simply join, set sail and #BEinspirate.
By surrounding yourself with like-minded individuals on The insPirates adventure, you can kick-start your project or generate new ideas or connections. The value is in the community, exchanging knowledge and skills, and creating connections.
The insPirates Kick-OFF
What? A flotilla sail week for adventurous and entrepreneurial game-changers.
How? Apply for a berth or (captained) yacht.
When? August 27 – September 3, 2016.
Where? Ionian Sea, Greece.