A Startup State of Mind: Alumna Karolina Czaplicka
Alumna Karolina Anna Edith Czaplicka studied abroad at JCU in the Fall 2017 semester. She graduated in 2018 from the American University of Paris with a degree in International Business Administration and a minor in Philosophy. Karolina is the co-founder of the Subjective Guide App, “a recommendation network for the next generation of travelers.”
Where did you grow up? Where are you currently living?
I was born and raised in Warsaw, Poland. My restless and curious personality pushed me out of my home at the age of 16 and since then I have lived and studied in five countries, one of which was Italy. After almost eight years abroad I moved back to Warsaw, where I am currently based and where, together with my best friend Tola, I founded the Subjective Guide App. The best part about owning a startup is that you are not tied to one place, and my co-founder and I can be constantly on the move. Life is too short not to pursue your calling, and mine is to keep exploring.
What do you remember most fondly about your experience at JCU? What kind of courses did you take?
My journey at JCU couldn’t have turned out better. Something that shaped my John Cabot experience was surely the great variety of classes. Two of my favorite courses were Ethics of Emerging Technologies and International Marketing. Some might think that business and philosophy don’t go well together, but from my experience the more interdisciplinary your studies are, the easier it becomes to be creative in your career path, especially in the startup world. At JCU I also met some of my closest friends, with whom I still keep in touch.
Tell us about Subjective Guide, the app that you co-founded. How did you get this idea and what motivated you to develop it? What challenges have you encountered?
The idea behind Subjective Guide originated from me frequently changing countries and taking every occasion to travel with my best friend. When you first visit a new city, it takes time and a lot of effort to find places that match your taste. I do not consider myself a conformist, therefore Google results would not meet my expectations. I believe that everyone has their own way of exploring a new place and that they should listen to their inner travel voice to discover cities according to their liking. During my semester abroad in Rome, I understood the value of asking my peers for recommendations because we tend to look for similar experiences. That is how I found the opportunity to provide a platform for students to share their favorite places and transfer their insider knowledge to incoming students or visiting friends.
You have already lived in five different countries! What skills and experiences have you gained from constantly adapting to new environments?
Even when I was earning my degree at the American University of Paris, I changed apartments five times. I love the feeling you get when you are forced to find yourself over and over again. When you move, you have to explore your neighborhood and that’s one way I got to know Paris much better. The same applies to moving to different countries. A valuable lesson that I learned from living in many countries is that you become more productive and inspired when you have to adapt to cultural diversity, and there is nothing more important than that when creating your own company.
What advice do you have for people thinking of launching a startup?
It may sound cliché, but startups are a state of mind. Don’t overthink it, just do it. My suggestion is to observe and listen to your surroundings. Find a problem and build a startup to provide a solution. There are so many hardships along the way that only a truly passionate person can handle. So if you have something that you are passionate about, build a startup, and see what happens. That being said, I could not imagine any other career for myself. Remember that founding your own startup is a guarantee that you will continue learning.
Check out Karolina’s startup Subjective Guide.