Interview with Francesca Bassenger, the founder of No Borders Magazine
22 year old Francesca Bassenger is the founder and editor of world culture and lifestyle iPad app-zine, No Borders Magazine. The app-zine started as her final major project at university which she then carried on after graduation in July. No Borders Magazine hit the AppStore at the end of August, offering features, reviews, interviews and more, covering a wide variety of topics under the world culture umbrella.
1) What inspired you to become an entrepreneur and start your own business?
My parents both worked freelance when I was growing up and the freedom that gave them in terms of spare time, definitely had an effect on my perceptions about life and work balances. I've always felt that life is for living and experiencing and that I couldn't do that if I was stuck in a 9-5 at a desk for 80% of it. That's not to knock anyone who does, but it's just not for me.
My job had to be an excuse for me to do something fun. I want to travel the world and experience other cultures, and what better excuse than to have a world culture and lifestyle magazine?
2) What steps did you take, when you realised you could start your own business?
I had to research the existing market to ensure my idea was viable, then it was a case of looking into how much it would actually cost to produce and maintain.
3) Do you feel university changed your mindset or helped you in anyway to get going, and start up?
Without my uni this would never have happened at all. The mag started as my final major project, which in itself granted me the time to fully concentrate on the development of the initial concept and design. Having a deadline also meant that it went from concept to a working app in around 8 months.
Throughout the process, my tutors' comments, criticisms, suggestions, industry experience and support were invaluable.
4) As someone who is new to the world of business, what kind of support are you looking (whether it be finance, mentoring etc). What would help you the most to take your business further?
At the moment the main thing holding the app back is financial support. In order to make the app hit the AppStore within my budget, I had to cut a lot of features. So the No Borders Magazine you see today is the most basic version of what it could be. In order to add those features and improvements I need more funding, which could be in the form investment, sponsorship or advertisements.
In the meantime though, I'm working two part-time jobs in order to save up for this, as well as support myself, and still have the time and flexibility to write and organise content. Investment or sponsorship would allow me to work full time on the app and fund the improvements needed to make it reach it's full potential.
5) What tips do you have for budding entrepreneurs?
Don't be put off by the scale of the task, or by being the odd one out. Sometimes it definitely seems like it would be so much easier to fall in line and go get a 'proper career' like everybody else. Don't give in to it. Strive to be exceptional.
Look at 'exceptional' people who made it from nothing.. people like Steve Jobs, Peter Jones, Alan Sugar.. why not you? There will be plenty of people who will look down on what you're doing no matter what it is, because you've not chosen the conventional way. But, giving up the chance to be exceptional for the sake of being conventional... that sounds a lot more crazy to me.
6) What are the plans for the future?
The plan is to carry on carrying on: improving the app, looking for sponsorship and promoting the app on social networking sites. Every little bit of progress is an acheivement for NB; every new Twitter follower, Facebook 'Like' etc.
It's baby steps, and it wont happen over night, but hopefully it'll all be worth while in the end.