Curious about the entrepreneurial adventure behind inspiring brands, Brand and Strategic Professional Martijn Arets decided to quit his job, hand in his lease car, ignore all uncertainties and follow his dream. For five months, he travelled more than 15,000 kilometers across Europe in a one-of-a-kind 1971 Volkswagen T2 camper van, meeting with the founders, CEOs and brand managers of 20 authentic European brands in what was to prove a unique trip: Brand Expedition.
While he was on the road, Martijn used all conceivable social media, blogs and internet marketing tools to share his adventures and experiences – gathering a veritable cult following along the way. Along the way he asked the crowd for its input on which brands he should visit next. This approach opened doors at top brands that otherwise remain firmly shut. Martijn managed to visit the likes of Lego, Mini, Skype, The Body Shop, Adidas and even Manchester United!
On popular demand, he has bundled the lessons and stories behind the 20 appealing European brands he visited to create Brand Expedition, the book. After the first print of the Dutch book sold out and the book was nominated as ABN AMRO entrepreneurial book of the year, Martijn decided to spread his international wings with an English translation. He then managed to find 171 investors in 10 weeks who gathered 20,000 euros for his project during the world’s first equity-based crowdfunding campaign.
For the launch of the English translation of his book, Martijn is challenging all 150,000,000 online fans of the brands covered in his book to read out loud a portion of the chapter on the brand they love – making this the first read-out-loud video book on YouTube in the world. His goal: to gather over 500 – 1,000 videos in 15 countries and bring them together in one final edit.
A team of professionals and several progressive companies are helping Martijn with the unique challenge of connecting thousands of people all across the world and involving them in this unique project, to prove the truth behind Martijn’s favorite quote: ‘If you think you’re too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito in your room’.
Under the name of ‘Brand Expedition’ Martijn currently advises existing organizations, professionals and start-ups in various roles: as a member of the Advisory Board, as a fresh and unbiased brainstorm partner and by giving inspiring lectures on his experiences and vision. Brand Expedition is all about entrepreneurship, inventing new business models, strategy, crowdsourcing and funding, creating value without using money, and last but not least kicking against the heels of the established industry.
All this ‘kicking, creating and crowdfunding’ earned him the title ‘Dutch Entrepreneur of the Year 2011’.
Another original brand chaser is Mark van der Heijden who travels the world for free helping out Agencies, Brands & Charities as The Backpacker Intern.